Take Your Health Seriously, or Risk The Video Games You Love

You may have noticed we’ve had another one of our little breaks here at nowisgames.com, not for quite as long as in the past, but a sizeable gap to be sure. A summer holiday of sorts, even though it poured with rain here in England for most of August.

I’ve been aiming for two posts a month since my last return, which I was hitting reasonably well, until recently. This wasn’t a break I intended to take, I really didn’t have much of a choice this time.

I stopped streaming a little while ago too, because I was tired of sitting at my desk all day for work, then all evening to stream. I took refuge in The Last of Us Part II and Spider-Man trophy hunting/second playthroughs. All of this to escape the apocalypse that is 2020.

It was all going so well, my platinum trophy was awarded for TLOU2 after another 25 hours, 5 consecutive hours a day for 5 days. I went to bed that night feeling like I’d done something. Felt something.

When I woke up, I was in agony, both arms were tingling from the shoulder to the tips of my fingers. Shooting pain right to the fingertips.

As the day went on, my arms didn’t spring back to life, they just got worse. My wrists were feeling sore, numb, sharp pains, then numb again. My left arm and shoulder felt cold on one of the hottest July days.

I knew at this point I’d overdone the video games, the controller based play in particular. Both Spider-Man and TLOU2 require some serious button mashing at times and I was chasing trophies and 100%. I’m a grown man, I knew what I’d done, I knew why I’d done it, I am starting to become aware of the long term consequences some five weeks later.

Repetitive Strain Injury

I’ve been aware of RSI for a long time, which has other names too, but it was a big deal back when computers were starting to appear in homes all over the world, just as Bill Gates had predicted.

I’ve always, always taken RSI seriously; I’ve used ergonomic keyboards, mice, always sure to take those silly workstation assessment things, tried to sit up straight and so on.

Here’s where taking it seriously stopped, sloping around on my sofa pretending to be the webhead swinging through New York? Seeking revenge against Abby in Seattle?

Clawing my controller with hook hands and staring at the TV for 4 hours at a time is comfortable right? Sure, unless you take it too far like I did. 🤦‍♂️

I’m too young for this!

This isn’t the only catalyst responsible for this turn of events, I recently moved into a new house of my own, so I’ve been doing DIY, gardening and more activities involving my upper body and so on. This lockdown encouraged gaming stint was definitely the tipping point.

I couldn’t lift or carry my own son, open jars, use a keyboard for long, the controller was out of the question. Any day to day task you can imagine became either impossible or very bloody painful.

“I’m 38 years old, I’m too YOUNG for this.” I thought, so I turned to the ibuprofen to make it go away. This helped, but I swore myself off the video games, which is how I knew this was serious. Little did I know, five weeks would pass before I started to feel like things were improving.

While I was no longer playing video games, I continued to watch Twitch streams, binged Community, Fringe, dozens of films, copies of EDGE magazine. I avoided typing at much as I could for work too.

It’s fair to say I sank further into an existing depressive state, giving up all exercise or even just movement beyond sitting at my desk and walking up and down my stairs.

Painkillers have their own dangers

I gained weight (obviously) and comfort ate to keep up with the influx of ibuprofen, which destroys your insides if you’re not careful.

This isn’t a long term solution. After two weeks, you’re not really supposed to take things like ibuprofen tablets apparently, so my doctor told me to use ibuprofen gel and treat the pain directly, which was way more effective. Thank !@#.

Unfortunately, within a few days of finishing the gel treatment and starting to feel like things were on the mend, back pain kicked in out of nowhere and I began feeling “ill” shall we say.

That is an unwelcome side effect of:

  • taking so much ibuprofen
  • not staying even remotely active
  • eating way too much junk
  • not drinking enough water

My digestive system had enough and my body was generally turning against me at this point. I had to snap out of it, so I went for a walk and sorted myself out. I’m feeling much better 6 days later as I write this.

Crucially, I’ve booked an appointment with my doctor to talk about the depression and anxiety I was already feeling before this stupid !@#ing virus changed the entire world and made everyone unhappy, instead of it feeling like just me. What do you do when the whole world is pissed off?

In the middle of all this going on, I read an incredible blog post from Athena over on Ambi Gaming. Sanity meter in 2020 you say? Yeah, mine was definitely depleted. It made me realise how I was feeling and helped put a few things in perspective. I started to take real action at that point, thank you, Athena. ♥

Take those breaks

I still love video games, I still have a ridiculous backlog to get through, so how can I take this hobby forward more sensibly? I’ve been preparing to introduce my son to technology, including the restrictions he will have in place, why on Earth am I not thinking about the restrictions I should be imposing on myself too? I should be setting an example!

How many of us regularly play video games for several hours at a time? Can you sit through a 3-hour movie without taking some kind of break? How about a 3-hour session of your favourite video game, completely different right? No problem to just keep going, at all.

Xbox has a feature to remind you at chosen intervals how long you’ve been signed in/playing, to take a break. You can get software on the PC to do the same thing, you’ve got timers on your phone, smart speakers, who knows what.

Make use of the technology available to take a break from that technology, it does break the immersion, but your health in real life is more important than the health bar on the screen.

3 Thoughts

  1. So easy to consider yourself the exception, right? I’ve done it before, then before you know it, you’re hit with an issue. Posts such as these to remind us all to take care of ourselves are important!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. You are very wise! Just make sure you are taking care of yourself. I know I’m terrible for stuff like this and I should do better. You do remind me that I should work on this. I hope the doctors appointment helps and can get you having discussions at least and maybe a plan put in place for longer term things.

    Liked by 1 person

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