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|Subject: Couple Played Dungeons & Dragons while Babies Starved Sun May 24, 2009 4:19 pm
Two babies were left starving and suffering health problems while their parents played Dungeons & Dragons.
American couple Michael and Iana Straw, 25 and 23, from Nevada pleaded guilty to child neglect, brought about by their obsession with internet and video games, authorities said.
Their children, a boy aged 22 months and girl aged 11 months, were badly malnourished and near to death last month when doctors saw them after social workers took them to hospital.
Michael Straw, who was unemployed at the time of the incident, had come into a $50,000 inheritance and spent it on computer equipment and a large plasma TV.
The Straws allegedly failed to feed or properly clean their children because they couldn't tear themselves away from the computer. Their main obsession was with the fantasy role-playing Dungeons & Dragons series.
Prosecutor Kelli Ann Viloria said: "They had food; they just chose not to give it to their kids because they were too busy playing video games."
Police were called in after complaints from neighbors that one of the children would not stop crying. According to the police report, the family's home was strewn with rubbish bags.
Police said hospital staff had to shave the head of the girl because her hair was matted with cat urine. The 10-pound girl also had a mouth infection, dry skin and severe dehydration.
Her brother had to be treated for starvation and a genital infection. His lack of muscle development caused him difficulty in walking, investigators said.
Both children are doing well and gaining weight in foster care, prosecutor Viloria told the Reno Gazette-Journal.
The parents face maximum jail sentences of 12 years each.
While child abuse because of drug addiction is common, abuse rooted in video game addiction is rare, Ms Viloria said.
Last month, experts at an American Medical Association meeting backed away from a proposal to designate video game addiction as a mental disorder, saying it had to be studied further.
Nevada Child Abuse Prevention said video game addiction's correlation to child abuse is "a new spin on an old problem".
"As we become more technologically advanced, there's more distractions. It's easy for someone to get addicted to something and neglect their children," a spokesman said.