When and How to Take a Break from Games (A Gamer’s Thumb Horror Story)

After a lifetime of playing video games without injury (unless you count the emotional trauma I suffered during TLOU’s opening), I finally gave myself Gamer’s Thumb, also known as De Quervain’s tendinosis. Unfortunately, this means I’m taking a very serious break from games for the next few weeks, but I also want to use this experience to warn other gamers of how easy it is to take things too far.

How to Avoid Gamer’s Thumb

The best way to deal with gamer’s thumb is to never get it in the first place. Here are a few tips to follow:

1. Stop When Your Hands Hurt

Okay, I know this sounds obvious, but who doesn’t have sore hands after a long weekend of uninterrupted gaming? However, if you’re hands are tired to the point that they’re sore the day after you’ve played a game, it’s time to get some major rest. Or, if you start up a game and within 20 minutes your hands start to get sore, this is a sign that your hands are in worse shape than you might think.

2. Get Plenty of Rest

I’ve already had gamer’s thumb for a few weeks, and I really should be in better shape. However, because I write for a living, it’s not entirely possible for me to get the full break I need for my hands. But this just means I need to find breaks where I can, including using my phone and computer less often.

I also want to iterate that even once your hands feel better, it’s not necessarily the right time to jump back into games. It’s important to let your hands rest and then work up to playing games. This is especially true if you wear braces, as your thumb can become slightly weaker and less flexible.

3. Turn on the Damn Assist

Unless you’re playing a strategic game, most games on the highest difficulty setting are just button mashers. And since repetitive motion is only going to add fuel to this fire, make sure your difficulty settings are configured to give your hands some variety and maybe even a rest.

How to Deal With Not Playing Games

Gaming journalism is bigger than ever today, and it can make gaming enthusiasts like myself feel like they’re not “legitimate” if they’re not playing all the latest and greatest titles. And don’t get me wrong, I had a great time last fall/winter playing more titles than I ever had in a holiday season. However, I would bet good money that if I hadn’t been listening to my favorite gaming podcasts all summer, I probably would’ve been able to reign in some of my enthusiasm.

It’s important to assess why you play games and understand if something is truly enjoyable or not. For some people, that means marathoning their favorite titles every waking moment of a long weekend. But for others, that could mean playing only an hour each night. But what’s important for each person is to find the right balance of games for their happiness and health, and coming to accept what’s ultimately best for their overall experience.

For now, what’s best for me is sitting on the sidelines watching my boyfriend play KH3 while I soak up tears of jealousy with a hot compress T-T

Do you guys have any tips for those of us suffering from gamer’s thumb? Let me know with a comment down below, I’d love to hear your thoughts!


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