A recent medical study tells us exactly how we can get hurt playing motion games, but concludes that we probably won't.
With the number of outlandish statements made by the media and politicians about gaming on a daily basis, it's always fun to stumble upon actual numbers rather than conjecture made solely to argue a point. One interesting study recently took a look at gaming-related injuries, with the goal of examining how motion-controlled games for systems like the Wii affected the types and likelihood of injury. The findings, presented today at the American Academy of Pediatrics annual conference in San Francisco, give us a tantalizing look into how you might get hurt while gaming.
According to the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System - a database that collects medical records from a number of contributing hospitals and extrapolates results for the entire United States - there were 696 gaming-related injuries sustained for the five year period from January 2004 to January 2009.
Surprisingly, of those 696 injuries, only 92 came from "newer interactive games" - basically, motion-controlled titles for the Wii. Given all of the horror stories of smashed televisions and bludgeoned friends, I'd have expected the number of Wii Sports-inflicted casualties to be higher.
Still, while the overall number of motion-gaming injuries is low, the probability of wounding a bystander is significantly higher. Patrick O'Toole, the lead author of the study, warned, "Younger children under the age of 10 should be supervised while videogames are being played to prevent bystander injuries, which are more common with [motion-controlled] games."
The injured ranged from one month to 86 years old, with a mean age of 16.5. So, if you're older than seventeen, congratulations - you are a bit less likely to be smacked with a controller. Unfortunately, gender won't help you much. Of those injured while playing motion-based games, 53% were male and 47% were female.
While playing motion-controlled games, players are most likely to injure their shoulders, ankles, or feet. While the lack of wrist injuries is interesting, most of the shoulder wounds are probably due to a good old-fashioned case of gaming rage (or Battletoads, as I like to call it).
It seems that, with only about a hundred injuries in the first three years of the Wii being on the market, the hoopla about motion-controller injuries and property damage has been blown a bit out of proportion. When playing the Wii, just remember to use your wrist strap, remain calm, and try not to smack your buddy. Everybody will go home happy.