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Hurts so good: Kevin Allen's love-hate relationship with video game hockey

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A 12-year-old girl recently walked into a Swiss hospital with intensely painful sores on her palms.

Doctors figured out was wrong, and put a name to it -- "PlayStation palmar hidradenitis." She'd been playing too much Playstation 3.

I'm embarrassed to admit, I feel her pain -- although my symptoms aren't as severe, and I haven't actually been diagnosed.

It all has something to do with my "puck window." You see, everyone has a puck window. Unfortunately, mine has been negatively affecting my ability to work for the past couple of weeks.

The puck window -- for the uninitiated -- is a term a few friends I grew up with coined to describe the time you're available to play each other online in the EA Sports hockey video game "NHL 09" for the Playstation 3 console.

There's no doubt that the bone-crushing hits I routinely administer with Blackhawks defenseman Brian Campbell during my puck window have resulted in a blister on my right thumb. And the wicked dekes I break out with winger Kris Versteeg have left me with a chronic dull pain in my left palm.

Sure, I don't share the little girl's "series of sweat- and stress-induced lesions." But the bottom line is: I'm 29 years old, and I have a video game injury.

I know what you may be thinking, and I fully realize that playing online video games against my buddies with any regularity removes "dateable" from the list of words many women would use to describe me.

But I grew up suffering through the original eight-bit Nintendo, graduating to 16 exciting bits of Sega Genesis, and then to Nintendo 64 and Playstation 2 in college. I've had them all, but none have I loved more than the Playstation 3.

If I didn't fully embrace the fluid gameplay, insane graphics and general amazingness of this console, I'm afraid a childhood version of myself would find a way to travel to the future and punch present-day me in the face.

But I can't help but wonder while typing this very article with my poor, pained hands, is it worth it? (Don't worry -- I know the answer to this question.)

Thankfully, there's a cure: Stop playing. At least for a while.

Nina Goad, of the British Association of Dermatologists told the BBC: "If you're worried about soreness on your hands when playing a games console, it might be sensible to give your hands a break from time to time, and don't play excessively if your hands are prone to sweating."

A spokesman for Sony Computer Entertainment Europe reiterated Goad's (and my mother's, for that matter) advice: "As with any leisure pursuit there are possible consequences of not following common sense, health advice and guidelines, as can be found within our instruction manuals."

There you have it. I'm loath to admit that I'm suffering the consequences of not following common sense.

The good news is that spring is a few weeks away, bringing reasons to go outside. However, as I watch my puck window close, I can sense that the release of the intriguing baseball offering "MLB 09: The Show" will coincide with the opening of a brand new, equally destructive window.

Playstation rash: high scores, red lesions [Globe and Mail]
Game consoles cause 'skin sores' [BBC News]

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This is still not going to make me stop playing my xbox 360, or my DS.

You dont have to take a break if you switch to another game that uses different parts of the thumb. The key is to build calluses and thumb muscles that make it look like a chicken leg lol

This article and Matt's comment really made me laugh. That Swiss girl was playing the heck out of her playstation. Though I can relate... I remember getting a big blister on my thumb when I was twelve from playing Mortal Kombat on Sega Genesis. Getting Liu Kang's fatality down pat was an difficult process. *lol*

I wonder if there are any studies on this type of thing in the late 80's / early 90's when the NES was in its heyday. I know that controller was definately not very ergonomic and I recall more than one friend (and myself) getting blisters from all night gaming marathons. Gyruss is probably going to be a factor in my future Carpal Tunnel diagnosis.

During those times, I remember my pointer finger develops calluses but I still fight with my brother to be able to play first. =)
Well now, I think I'm going to have carpal tunnel! :P

During those times, I remember my pointer finger develops calluses but I still fight with my brother to be able to play first. =)
Well now, I think I'm going to have carpal tunnel! :P

Interesting little article that caught my eye when I saw the front page. I've been a gamer for a long time, obviously not as long since I'm only 19, but I've played my share of semi-long session on PS2, the Wii, what have you. Never have I had any hand injuries. Soreness, yes. Even with this development, I agree with Amanda; I'm not gaming less because of this.

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This page contains a single entry by Kevin Allen published on February 26, 2009 7:02 PM.

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