If my headline shocks you, then I do apologize, however the fact that playing online games such as FarmVille may may be hazardous to your general health is not something easily dismissed. There is a potential here for millions of people to suffer pain and discomfort resulting from their participation in online games such as FarmVille.
Now before you dismiss my previous statement as a huge exaggeration, consider the fact that within two months of launching in June 2009, the numbers of Facebook users actively playing FarmVille had reached 11 million! Given this article is being written in March 2010, it is reasonable to expect that there are now well over 11 million FarmVille players engaged in this game. In fact FarmVille is on track to becoming the fastest growing social game in history. To put things another way, the current giant of the online gaming world, World of Warcraft, took four years to reach the 11 million active user mark compared to FarmVille’s two months!
Clearly, online games such as FarmVille and World of Warcraft (and many other less popular online games) do have the potential to inflict serious health problems on millions and millions of people, both adults, teens and children. The types of health problems I am referring to are categorized in the medical community as “repetitive stress injuries” (RSI) caused by placing too much stress on a joint. Generally most RSI injuries are linked to the stress cause by repetitive motions at the computer or overuse injuries in sports. Obviously our concern here is with the RSI injuries caused by the playing of online computer games such as FarmVille for long periods of time.
In simple terms, an RSI occurs from repeated stress being put on a body joint due to repeated actions by the game player over extend periods of time. So the constant typing and hitting keyboard keys, moving your mouse again and again and any other required computer game actions eventually begins to take a toll of the body parts involved. When the body does not have time to recover and becomes irritated it reacts by secreting fluid into the affected parts to reduce the stress you are putting on the tendons or muscles involved.
Eventually you will experience pain and discomfort and if left too long, this may result in the condition known as “repetitive stress injury”. Some of names of these conditions and what they affect may already be known to you, such as carpal tunnel syndrome (wrist), cervical radiculopathy (neck), epicondylitis (elbow), Ganglion cyst (wrist), reflex sympathetic dystrophy (hands), and tendonitis (tendons). Like me, many of you may have previously associated these conditions with “workplace injuries”. Bet you never imagined that you could get these conditions from simply playing an online game that you love to play for entertainment!
All is not lost, as RSI’s can be prevented by taking protective measures and redesigning your home computer layout to reduce the stresses on your joints during game play. There is however one very important step that you must consider to either avoid being a victim of an RSI, or to allow your body to heal if infact you are already experiencing any of these RSI conditions. (Do please consider seeking medical advice if you are experience any pain and discomfort from your gaming.)
The essential step that you need to serious consider is…. cut back on your gaming time! Ouch! I know that this option will not sit well with many of you serious, hard-core FarmVille gamers, but do you really want to risk an RSI condition at some point? So lets look at this option is more detail. Cutting back does not equate to stop playing FarmVille (or whatever game you play). Stop and think when and why you need to spend enormous amounts of time playing the game. For most of us (yes I am a gamer too), the first big time suck comes when we start playing the game as we must spend hours and hours learning the basics of the game, how to level, what to plant, where to go, what to buy, and the list goes on and on. No wonder we spend insane amounts of time staring at the computer screen and stressing out our bodies!
Now there is a way to speed up your learning curve and at the same time, cut back on your gaming time. Rather than being a “Lone Ranger” trying to blaze your own gaming path, consider making use of the work of others who have gone before. Learning from their successes will allow you to accomplish things much quicker in a given period of time which will give you the option of reducing your playing time. You can reach your playing goals and objectives much quicker using the knowledge of others who are more experienced FarmVille players than you.
Finally the “Ah-ha” moment has arrived. Where can you find this wealth of gaming information? Simply by consulting articles, reports and guidebooks written by successful gamers, or in our case, successful “farmers”! So rather than take a chance of being the next victim of an RSI condition, consider investing some time, and perhaps even a bit of money, into discovering ways you can decrease your FarmVille gaming time and still be successful.