Video Game Hidden Risks – Never Ignore These Signs

Playing video game is so fun and awesome, but spending all your time playing them might be a bad thing. Depending on how often and how long you do it at a time, you may face serious consequences. Obviously, doing anything without pace or moderation is not good for you (except perhaps air, or may water), so use common sense when you play games.

Whether you are a pro video gamer or just an avid gaming dude/gal who enjoys occasional hour-long gaming sessions, here are some signs that you must watch out before considering another one of those long throw-down streaks.  Of course, to avoid these signs altogether,  the rule of thumb is very much like working in an office environment or doing anything that requires concentration:

The 52/17 rule, or 52 minutes of playing followed by 17 minutes of break, stretching, or just plain walking around.

Video Game Risk 1 – Thrombosis

As per Wikipedia,

Thrombosis is the formation of a blood clot inside a blood vessel, obstructing the flow of blood through the circulatory system. When a blood vessel is injured, the body uses platelets (thrombocytes) and fibrin to form a blood clot to prevent blood loss. Even when a blood vessel is not injured, blood clots may form in the body under certain conditions. A clot, or a piece of the clot, that breaks free and begins to travel around the body is known as an embolus.

Deep vein thrombosis can result from frequently sitting still for too long, and very often when you embark on a prolonged gaming streak, you are doing it sitting down.  Some die-hard dedicated gamers are even known to wear adult diapers while gaming.  One British gamer actually died of blood clots (probably by thrombosis) after he frequent 12-hour gaming sessions for long periods of time. Another avid gamer from New Zealand was hospitalized with life-threatening blood clots in his legs after playing his PlayStation for four days straight.  These reports aren’t made up, they are as real as heart-attacks.

This same ailment also affects frequent flyers who spent long periods of time onboard on airplanes with very little room to maneuver around. It is also sometimes known as “economy class syndrome”.

Video Game Risk 2 – Heart Failure

A CNN Reporting

A 32-year-old man was found dead in an Internet cafe in Taiwan after a marathon three-day gaming binge, the island’s second death of an online gamer this year. The man, surnamed Hsieh, entered the cafe in Kaohsiung, Taiwan’s second largest city, on January 6 2015, Jennifer Wu, a police spokesperson from the Hunei district precint told CNN.  An employee found him motionless and sprawled on a table at 10 a.m. on January 8 and he was rushed to hospital, where he was pronounced dead from cardiac failure, she added.

Cardiac failure, largely caused by immobility and over-exhaustion is a real killer, especially if you are also not paying attention to your health and well-being.  The victim is known as a regular to an internet cafe. His family stated that he would disappear days at a time. It’s sad that he is not the only case, a similar incident also took place in 2012 where the gamer died after playing for 5 days straight.

Video Game Risk 3 – Nintendonitis

Taking regular breaks or cutting your playing sessions to under an hour at a time is just a good start, but you can’t avoid all the risks associated with playing a video game. The repetitive motion used while playing a video game, or more precisely, tapping on the buttons of your controller for hours, days, weeks, months, and years on end can still take a serious toll on your fingers.

As defined by our friends at Google:

Nintendo thumb, also known as gamer’s grip,Nintendonitis and similar names, is a video game-related health problem classified as a form of repetitive strain injury (RSI). The symptoms are the blistering, paraesthesia and swelling of the thumbs, mainly through use of the D-pad, though any finger can be affected.


Video Game Risk 4 – Back Pain

If you haven’t experienced it, just do a quick google search and you’ll see the number of articles you find with “lower back pain” from “video games.”  I mean you don’t need an expert to tell you, especially if you call yourself a gamer.

The European Spine Journal stated in one of its studies on how lower back pains in children as result of doing different activities, including video games, watching TV, and they found:

“There was significantly more (lower back pain) in children who reported playing video games for more than 2 h per day, but this was not so for television watchers. The visual analog scales concerning general well-being were all very significantly correlated with self-reported (lower back pain), with children who reported (lower back pain) being more tired, less happy, and worse sleepers.”

So if you must play, make sure your posture is correct.

Video Game Risk 5 – Eye Strains

Blue lights, UV, radiation, just to name a few dangers emitting from any displays, including your TV, computer monitor, tablets, and most importantly, your phone.

It should not come as a surprise that staring at screens for hours on end is not good for your eye.  The damages caused by just one of the above things are just not acceptable.  Did you know that prolonged exposure to blue lights could increase the risk of macular degeneration? It also contributes to digital eye strain and causes damages to your retina.  So take a break every hour or so, look at some green shrubbery for a change, because your eyes will thank you.

Video Game Risk 6 – Altered Ego

Playing video game can change your brain, literally.  As with anything in life, if you dedicate your time to it, you’ll become an expert. The same thing applies to Video gaming, especially with children.  A study published by Translational Psychiatry indicated that there are tangible changes in the brain of kids who play video games for more than 9 hours a week compared to children who play less.

This finding not only substantiates the claim that playing video games can change you, but it is also interesting to explore further.  This is not equivalent to playing violent games makes you violent, as that’s a subject of “brainwashing”, which is totally unrelated to the topic at hand, as the changes we are talking about here is on a more physical level.

The same kind of changes is observed with gamblers experiencing up and downs.  Not judging whether it’s good or bad, but maybe not so suitable for young children to experience at an early age (14 years or younger).

Video Game Risk 7 – Seizures

If you have a history of seizures, make sure to read labels on your games before playing.  The NIH (National Institute of Health) published an article noting that a majority of patients within a study suffered seizures while playing video games.  This is obviously considering the use of colors, lights, graphics, and sounds are all contributors to inducing seizures in people who are already prone.

After the study in 1994, which 27 of the 35 seizure patients suffered episodes, ended up changing some of the regulations in the video gaming industry and game developers have come a long way, but it is still important to understand that not all games are made equal, don’t assume anything.

Video Game Risk 8 – Obesity

The video gaming industry is changing and has become healthier, just look at Nintendo Wii, Xbox Kinect, Sony Moves, and new VR devices like Oculus or Vive.  Gamers (or their parents) are realizing that if you have a sedentary lifestyle, it may not be good for you in the long-run, just look at the explosion of work-out and fitness videos flooding the market today.

Just as stated in the first section of this article, do everything in moderation and you’ll be fine.  If you take a 15 minutes break for every hour spent playing, eat healthy at least every now and then, don’t skip any meals, stay away from junk food, you should be just fine.

Video Game Risk 9 – Addiction

Video game addiction is a real thing, according to google

Video game addiction is described as an impulse control disorder, which does not involve use of an intoxicating drug and is very similar to pathological gambling. Video game addiction has also been referred to as video game overuse, pathological or compulsive/excessive use of computergames and/or video games.

So basically what is an addiction, well as defined by WebMD,

  1. The person needs more and more of a substance or behavior to keep him going.
  2. If the person does not get more of the substance or behavior, he becomes irritable and miserable.

Do the above apply to you? Just a little bit?  Well, congratulations, you are addicted.  But don’t worry, most of us gamers are not addicted heavily.  Just practice moderation and you’ll be back to your healthy self in no time.

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