Thursday, October 23, 2008

Gaming Injuries

This article first appeared in 'Game Invader', my weekly column for the New Indian Express

Spore is the first game that has actually managed to aggravate my shoulder injury purely from the anticipation of playing it! I had got my hands on a copy at long last, taken off the shrink wrap, and was all ready to play, when all of a sudden this shooting pain stabs through my right shoulder.

One visit to the doctor later, my hopes lay in tatters — no computer use for a week, the man says.

Damn. Spore would have to wait.

With no reading (strains the neck) and no gaming (bad for the shoulder), one week of boredom lay before me. Television is no help, because most TV programmes are so annoying, stupid and boring that I’d rather injure my shoulder playing games. I can’t even read the Spore manual to pass the time. Doomed! One solution was to watch a whole lot of Monty Python videos on my trusty PSP. I’d have to sit or lie down with the requisite support for neck and back, and hold PSP at a delicate angle, but hey, it worked for me. Much of my boredom was relieved as Messrs Cleese, Palin, Jones and the rest did more for my good spirits than all the medication in the world! This period was also useful in looking at another great role the PSP plays — that of a music player.

The works of worthies such as J S Bach, R Plant, and J Page did wonders for easing my pain. The PSP really is a great media playing device, and has been my constant companion even when I’m not able to play its games.

My DS was a great friend through the pain as well. The only game I could play without increasing the pain was Advance Wars on the DS. The stylus-based controls and the turn-based gameplay makes it an ideal rest-based game! Where would us gamers be without our handhelds to help us get through our darkest hours? However, with my PC and consoles ruled out, most of my gaming will have to be put off until my doctor gives the order. I’m just glad that Fallout 3 isn’t coming out his week. The torture of waiting to play it would have been too much to take! The break also gave me some time to do something I don’t normally have much time for — thinking. All sorts of game-related thoughts, lying in bed with a hot water bottle under my back.

Some nostalgic — reminiscing about old favourites. Some futuristic — coming up with design wishlists and games I’d like to play someday.

Of course, some of the time was spent wondering what Fable 2 will be like. It was refreshing and fun to just lie back and let thoughts wander off on their own, without having any objective to shape them.

I’m going to do more of this.

And, on a slightly serious note, all you hardcore gamers out there would do well to pay attention to your playing habits, posture, and general health. Make sure your chair, table and equipment follow basic ergonomic standards. (In fact, some people have opined that working and playing long hours on a laptop is what really caused my problem. I’m considering switching to a desktop).Take breaks during long play sessions. And get some exercise — sports, gym, yoga, or anything else that strengthens your back and shoulders.

If you neglect these, give me a call. I know a good doctor.

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