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Nature of injuries caused by computer games depends on control system

17 December 2014

Dozens of cases of trauma and other injuries caused by Nintendo computer games have been reported throughout the world. This conclusion was drawn by Maarten Jalink of the UMCG, on the basis of an analysis of all the current academic literature relating to the field. The nature of the injuries changes per generation of game consoles. Jalink has today published an article on the subject in the renowned Christmas edition of the authoritative British Medical Journal.

For his research, Jalink studied 35 relevant academic articles describing medical ailments connected with the use of a Nintendo. His analysis shows a strong link between the nature of the injuries and the type of controls on the game consoles. As the control systems change per generation of console, the nature of the injuries they cause changes with them.

Nintendo thumb

Nintendo’s first games, which came out in the 1980s, were played on a console that was operated by buttons. During the height of this console’s popularity an RSI-type injury occurred, referred to in the popular media as a ‘Nintendo thumb’. The Mario Party game designed for the subsequent Nintendo 64 was played using a small joystick. It resulted in several cases of patients with a blister on the palm of their hand.

The introduction of the Wii in 2006, which is operated with a movement-sensitive remote control, suddenly gave rise to more traumatic injuries such as broken bones, twisted knees and severed Achilles tendons. This is because these games involve more physical activity. Jalink expects future computer games, which will inevitably use other state-of-the-art control systems, to cause new injuries and ailments.

Every year, the widely read Christmas edition of the British Medical Journal publishes research that, although academically sound, should be taken with a pinch of salt.

Curriculum Vitae

Maarten Jalink is currently working as a resident in the Academic Hospital Paramaribo, Suriname. He will be awarded a PhD by the University of Groningen on 17 December, for a thesis about the use of a video game for training surgical laparoscopic skills.

Last modified:12 March 2020 9.49 p.m.
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