Carpal tunnel as a gamer

Hands are awesome. Until they get carpal tunnel and hurt all the time.

Hands are awesome. Until they get carpal tunnel and hurt.

About six months ago, I realized that my weekend-long Mass Effect binges were starting to hurt. And it wasn’t just from all the frozen pizza, either.

Carpal tunnel feels a bit like your wrists have just ran a marathon. The muscles feel fatigued, and more than a little tingly. The worse it gets, the more those tingles start to feel like stabs of pain. If you think you have it–go see your doctor. I’ve got a journalism degree, so don’t consider this your medical consultation.

Once I realized I had a problem, I started diving into research. I had a two-pronged problem. I needed my fingers and wrists to be fine for my job (editing) and I also needed them to be good for my gaming sessions. I realized that my hands almost never get a break. When I’m not typing, I’m using a controller. When I’m not doing that, I’m usually scrolling through Pinterest on our tablet.

Ouch.

But–I was able to find a few solutions that have seriously decreased the pain. I’d highly recommend all of these, even if you’re worried about getting carpal tunnel in the future.

We’ll start with the most important:

Gaming: Xtend Play 360

xtend play

This, my friends, is where it all started. Gaming controllers aren’t designed ergonomically. Luckily, smart people made it so that people like me can still enjoy our hobby. The Xtend Play fits snugly around the controller, but slides off easily enough. It’s foam, so it’s not like you have to struggle with an unwieldy heavy cover. The green is a bit…ick…but I’ll take it. When you hold the controller, you’ll be fitting your hands around it instead of under it. Your fourth and fifth fingers will follow your first two up to the trigger. I still have issues wasting away an entire day on certain games, but I was able to do a solid week of playing through RE6 thanks to this baby.

Don’t trust me? Read this.

Trust me? Buy it here.

Typing: Kinesis Advantage

kinesis

This thing is all kinds of space-age crazy awesomeness. It takes a couple weeks to get used to, but once it sinks in that you can remap all the keys, things start falling into place mentally. My keyboard is almost unrecognizable from its original configuration, excluding the QWERTY-style letters, of course. But the backspace being on the backspace button? Forgeddaboutit. Sadly, that makes it hard for me to show off this beautiful contraption, as that makes it even more complicated. But for personal use–amazing. I’m almost always pain-free during the week.

Don’t trust me? Read this.

Trust me? Buy it here.

If you do suspect you might have carpal tunnel, go see your doctor. And wear wrist braces. I don’t know how many people I know with carpal tunnel who claim these are too uncomfortable to sleep in. Sorry, I know it sucks. But they make such a huge difference that I would consider them absolutely a necessity. Go forth and conquer carpal tunnel!

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Sometimes a Furby is just a Furby

Demonic eyes, much?

The Furby perched silently on the closet shelf. No longer was it begging me to play that weird game that never actually worked for me, or to pet it, or for God’s sake, just give it all my attention. Some of my attention. Any of my attention.

I could tell you that in staring at it I saw how what was important to a child didn’t matter to an adult. I could tell you that it was the grand metaphor of my life—that what I had once strived to be the best at (Furby care, natch), didn’t even warrant more than an annoyed look now that I was in college. That glance should’ve been poignant; it held all and simultaneously none of the mysteries of growing up. It should have occurred to me that it was a symbol that the old me was now gone, wrapped up in purses and clothes and cello lessons; not taking care of freaky toys that crave attention more than Lindsay Lohan.

But—I’m not that deep.

All I felt at that moment was a stab of annoyance that it was in my way, trying to make me feel guilty for not taking care of the inanimate (yet somewhat possessed) former toy of the year. The Furby sat, glaring at me, unblinking and unforgiving.

Then—it leaned forward. “Furrrrbyyyyyyyy,” it wailed.

Damn, I thought. How long do those batteries last?