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Ergonomic Gaming Tips

In the near 40 years that home video gaming consoles have been in existence, the popularity of this pastime has skyrocketed. Each generation born since this development has had their own flagship system. In the 70s, the market was pioneered in the United States by the Magnavox Odyssey and Atari consoles. In 1985, the Japanese giant Nintendo revolutionized cartridge gaming systems with the release of the NES. By the early 1990s, other manufacturers had joined in with the release of the Sega Genesis, Panasonic 3DO, and the Sony Playstation, just to name a few.

It was not until recent years however, that home video console gaming started to appeal to a wider audience. Once relegated to teenage boys, the video game world has opened up to persons of all ages, both male and female. The wildly popular Nintendo Wii system is the perfect example of such a cross-generational and cross-gender gaming platform.

With such an increase in the range of physical ability “gamers,” it has become especially important for these players to adhere to basic ergonomic principles while enjoying their free time. Failure to do so can result not only in a game lost, but worse yet, physical discomfort and injury.

At Ask ErgoWorks, we take our play time just as seriously as our work, and we think you should too! That’s why we’ve compiled a few tips to help you make the most of your video-gaming experience. Take a look at this list of ergonomically-minded video gaming principles:

  • Train Your Hands: This may sound silly, but research shows that persons who regularly train their fingers, hands, wrists, and forearms, are at a lower risk for repetitive stress injuries such as carpal tunnel syndrome. See our recent article on Ergonomic Exercises for tips on how best to “work out” your hands.
  • Posture: Like any activity wherein the participant must sit or stand for extended periods of time, it is important that while gaming, you observe proper posture. Unfortunately, many gamers tend to slouch or slump into the couch or chair once they really “get into the game.” A better approach is to find a chair with lumbar support and armrests. At best, it should be placed a distance away from the television or computer screen such that you are able to view the entire screen at one time.
  • Lighting: While it may be tempting to set the gaming mood by turning off all the lights, this is likely the worst thing you could do for your eyes. Particularly with the bright colors and rapidly-changing images involved in most video games these days, your eyes are forced to operate under high strain when in the dark. Do your eyes a favor and adjust the lights so as to decrease the comparative brightness of your screen. Switch on a light!
  • Sound: Much like our eyes, our ears work best when they don’t have to strain. On the other hand, you don’t want to damage them either. Set your volume control such that the quietest of important noises can be heard, but not so loud that higher amplitude sounds are uncomfortable to hear.
  • Take Breaks: What is perhaps most important to remember when fully engulfed in your favorite video game is to take occasional breaks. Pressing the "pause" button to take a 5 minute break every 30 minutes will allow your muscles to relax, your eyes to focus on something other than the screen, and your mind to wander. You’ll find that incorporating a regular break schedule will not only reduce your physical discomfort, but it may even make you a better gamer.

Video games have changed the way we have fun. Make the most of your gaming experience by making it ergo-safe!