As technology advances, and simulations of real-life situations in video games become more real, more complex, and requiring much more thought and skill, gaming is on the rise. And with gaming, injuries are becoming more and more common. Strange? Well, not really. As the debate rages in some circles whether gaming is a sport or not (at least, in the Institute of Technology this writer works in, the debate is fierce, let me tell you), gaming injuries are real.
An Older Version
This is not to be confused with Gamekeepers Thumb, however. Gamekeepers thumb, according to Medscape, Gamekeepers Thumb originated in Scotland in 1955, this injury was most often…work-related, occurring as game animals (eg, rabbits) were sacrificed…between the ground and the gamekeeper’s thumb and index fingers; this placed a valgus force onto the abducted (MCP) joint, leading to UCL injury and to instability accompanied by pain and weakness of the pinch grasp. In other words, the repetitive work of the Scottish gamekeeper was such that the pinch grasp between the thumb and forefinger became damaged, requiring ligament repair.
A New Gatekeeper’s Thumb?
Ironically, theres a connection, here. Though the motion of Scottish gamekeeper is different from the Engineering student gamer, the reason for injuries is the same: repetition. Not only repetition but often the repetition of smaller muscles – as found in the hand – that arent used to being used in the exact same way over and over again.
Well, It’s a Bit Silly, Don’t You Think?
PC Mag came out with a slightly tongue-in-cheek article about Gamer injuries, but those listed were quite real, and nothing to laugh about. Gamers, the article begins, are an interesting group. They’ll stand in line for days with the hope of scoring that just-announced console or game. They’ll play hour upon hour in order to master the latest game. They’ll sacrifice all human contact (and sometimes hygiene) to hone their skills and advance their level of play. Yes, gamers are a frightening bunch.
Though they use the word frightening in a slightly comedic way, the concentration, repetition, and determination to excel at a particular game is a bit frightening. And lets put that old stereotype of the geek gaming master behind us. Gaming is mainstream.
While PCMag wittily coins gaming injuries such as Wiiitis, Nintendo Thumb, and even Burning Bladder, all gaming injuries are not to be taken so lightly.
Actually: Not So Silly…
Such as receiving mild hallucinations, for example. Sitting too close to a television for too long can reproduce the flashing lights of games even after the game has stopped. This writer (who is not a gamer), once played two hours of the game Doom on the computer years ago, then jumped into a car to drive to the local 7-11. There was definitely a significant sense of being in an altered state of reality, where perception, decision-making, and the inability to tell fantasy from reality was quite real, and actually, scary.
A somewhat older study conducted by Stanford University (2010, which in the gaming world is a lifetime) analyzed injuries sustained by gaming. In one instance, a girl fractured her foot over a huge Wii Dance Competition. The study concluded most injuries sustained in gaming were in the shoulder, ankle, and foot, with a mean patient age of 16.5.
…And Downright Lethal…
Since then, however, its gotten worse. One Californian man tore a tendon in 2015 while playing Crush Candy on his phone for weeks. And even more tragically, a 32-year old male gamer was found dead this year at an Internet cafe in Taiwan after a non-stop three-day gaming session.
Why Does This Happen?
Perhaps, though, the most alarming notion about gaming is not its physical injuries at all, but the psychological addictiveness that seems to be a part of it. There seems to be, within intense gaming, a point where players no longer have the ability to stop. They have to keep playing and playing. Its this, perhaps, thats the most disturbing.
Not because psychological problems are worse than physical ones: but because – at least in this instance – they seem to be right at the root of the problem.
- Orthopedic Surgery for Gamekeepers Thumb: History of the Procedure, Epidemiology, Etiology. April 26, 2016. Accessed May 30, 2016. http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/1239413-overview.
- A Guide to Gaming Injuries. May 16, 2008. Accessed May 30, 2016. http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2305625,00.asp.
- Steakley, Lia. About Scope. October 5, 2010. Accessed May 30, 2016. http://scopeblog.stanford.edu/2010/10/05/recovering_from/.
- Rettner, Rachael and Senior Writer. Man Tears Tendon after Playing Candy Crush for Weeks. Accessed May 30, 2016. http://www.livescience.com/50466-smartphone-game-injury.html.
- Griffiths, Mark. Gaming to Death: What Turns a Hobby into a Health Hazard?. CNN(CNN), January 21, 2015. http://www.cnn.com/2015/01/21/opinion/gaming-addiction-risks/.