Paige FTW: In-Game Injury

I had just gotten back from vacation and, feeling restless, thought to do something that would soothe me — something repetitive and simple and consuming, so that I could avoid the specter of post-vacation stress.

I played Stardew Valley. I wanted to finish the last Community Center bundles. What ended up happening, of course, is that I expanded my house two more times, rearranged my farm and starting hammering away at Skull Cavern.

Lo and behold, after a feverish Saturday play session, I stood up from my computer and realized something was wrong with my arm. I couldn’t raise or twist it without pain.

I received an unofficial diagnosis (from my family and boyfriend, who have many elbow injuries between them) of tendinitis and was advised to rest it, ice it and see a doctor if it didn’t improve.

Four days later, it is getting better after that regimen. I don’t know for sure that it was Stardew that afflicted me, but I also can’t think of anything else that would have done it, either.

So here is a little casual advice for you on how to avoid tendinitis, carpal tunnel and other muscle woes while gaming.

  1. Take breaks. Just as doctors (and video game manufacturers) recommend giving your eyes a break every 20 minutes or so, you should also give your arms a rest instead of going nonstop for three hours. Stretch them out; shake them out.
  2. Don’t be so forceful. I get really, really tense playing Stardew because I just feel that passionate about, uh, farming. My arm was clenched the whole time I was playing — which definitely was bad. If I had been more gentle…
  3. Set up your space. Make sure your desk is at the appropriate height, and your wrists or arms aren’t twisted or straining to reach your keyboard.

It seems silly, but it helps! Otherwise, you end up like me — still one fish away from Community Center completion, and unable to raise my left arm over my head, to boot.