On the Physical Demands of Gaming: Quantifying Pain, Muscle Activity, Kinematics, and Performance Changes
AuthorForman, Garrick Neville
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AbstractWith the rapid growth of both the gaming and esports industries, millions of individuals are now playing games as hobbies and careers. The intense and repetitive nature of gaming can likely lead to significant muscle fatigue and increase an individual’s susceptibility to musculoskeletal injuries and pain. However, the physical demands of gaming have largely been unexplored. The objectives of this thesis fell into three categories. 1) Determine where gamers most commonly experience pain while gaming and whether any demographics or gaming habits can predict pain or discomfort in the upper body (Chapter 3). 2) Determine how muscle fatigue and motor performance of the distal upper limb are impacted by a low-force/high-repetition fatiguing protocol utilizing rapid mouse clicking (Chapter 4) and mouse aiming (Chapter 5). 3) Determine the muscular and postural demands associated with high level, competitive gaming (Chapter 6). In Chapter 3, we identified that the neck, low back, and right arm were the most common locations of gaming-related pain. The high prevalence of gaming-related pain reported confirmed that gaming-related pain is a significant problem which requires further investigation. In Chapters 4 and 5, we found that low-force, high repetition fatigue protocols led to few impairments in motor performance. However, changes in EMG characteristics indicated that the mouse clicking protocol led to fatigue of the wrist flexors while the mouse aiming protocol produced muscle fatigue in the wrist extensors. Finally, in Chapter 6, we found that static loading of the shoulder and forearm musculature exceeded guidelines while playing a competitive PC first-person shooter. Musculature of the upper limb produced sustained high levels of muscle activity with little to no rest, exceeding suggested guidelines based on both magnitude of activity and rest time. This thesis provides some of the first research investigating the physical impact of video games on the upper body. It is also the first work to document the impact of low-force fatiguing protocols on fine motor functioning of the distal upper limb and to quantify the physical demands while playing competitive PC video games.
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