eSports Injuries Are on the Rise, Ignored at Gamers' Peril

Players are starting to drop out of eSports — complaining of crippling injuries that have halted their careers, which begs the question if eSports needs to reform to support these veterans.

eSports Injuries Are on the Rise, Ignored at Gamers' Peril

Hand and wrist injuries are perhaps the most common in eSports (electronic sports), the required speed and movement of the mouse can exhaust a player's dominate hand to the point of crippling pain after just one game session. No matter how ergonomic the mice and keyboards may be, players are starting to drop out of eSports, which raises the question if eSports needs to reform.

As with any sport, players on the professional scene have a limited lifetime. Joints eventually give out, but eSports is a particularly young sport, with no statistics or health information for how much you can (or should) push a player's body in practice or during a tournament. For a time, it seemed these young men and women could run forever, but veterans are starting to be bested by rookies. Legendary League of Legends pro and StarCraft II tournament player, Hai “Hai” Lam, recently announced his retirement.

He said in a recent post:

“I can play Xbox games on a controller, or even a little of other games like League or Dota or whatever, but whenever I play even two to three games of SC2, my hands end up killing me that entire week.”

His post goes on to talk about being depressed by the fact that he's separated from the sport he loves — from his friends. Suddenly, adrift from something that consumed his entire life. I think it's fair to say that none of these players expect this outcome going into it. Though, even if they do know this could be a potential outcome, look at how many youngsters go into football, knowing full-well about the risks of brain injury they could suffer later on in life. Sometimes the allure of a moment in the sun outweighs the long-term repercussions.

Indeed, David Wiers from Techgraphs writes, “The world of eSports is in an awkward position.” He continues on in his article, writing: “Without any sort of players union or dedicated medical staff, the players lack protection from injuries that have already ended or shortened multiple careers.”

While eSports have been gaining ground for recognition, there needs to be more steps in place to protect the interest of the players. With more and more of these players dropping out from wrist injuries, it's time for organizations within the eSports community take the recognition it has earned and use it to help protect the players that helped it get there.

The problem is ripe to become a gender equality issue as women make up about half of all gamers, as Jane McGonigal explains in her Big Think interview, and 94 percent of girls under the age of 18 play computer and video games regularly.

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