TAMPA, Fla. — Local gamer Daniel Zapata didn’t know if an upcoming bathroom trip would be serious enough to log out of Elder Scrolls Online, or whether he could get away with just pausing real quick.
“This one could go either way. There’s stomach discomfort, no question about it—but that could just be gas,” said Zapata, shifting his weight on the couch to see if it helped. “Yeah, I’d say 60, maybe 65 percent sure it’s gas. It’s the other 35 percent that I worry about.”
Zapata took a few precautions before making his way to the bathroom.
“I’m knocking out all my daily quests beforehand, in case I end up fighting a real Nor’easter in there,” he said, completing his crafting writs with increasing urgency. “You survive something like that, you just want to shower and call it a night. It is not a time for games.”
Experts have lobbied for more research into cases like Zapata’s, which remain nearly impossible to predict until it’s too late.
“Of course, with some bowel movements, you know exactly what’s going to happen. There is no ambiguity. But with others, like what this young man is experiencing—these leave gamers completely in the dark,” said Dr. Hannah Franklin, a renowned gastroenterologist who also plays a lot of Destiny 2. “Until we do more research, it might as well be an RNG.”
Zapata ultimately decided to keep the game on pause, but got kicked for idling after things took a turn for the worse.