Health Tips For The Hardcore Console Gamer
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Health Tips For The Hardcore Console Gamer

If you are still a relatively young console gamer then you probably don’t worry too much about the impact the long gaming sessions can have on your body.  However, many of the older gamers amongst us that have been clutching paddles, joysticks and steering wheels since the days of the Atari 2600 know only too well the effects, as we reach our late 30s and early 40s!  So, before you fire up your Xbox 360, Play Station 3, or whatever console of choice it is you own; we suggest you have a read of the useful tips below on how to safeguard your health for the future years.
Are you sitting comfortably?
When it comes to PC gaming, most participants will have a setup that makes use of a specialist desk.  As a result it is much easier to ensure an appropriate seating position thanks to the fact that most desk chairs are adjustable.  However, console owners are more likely to be seated in armchairs, settees and on beds during gaming sessions, which opens up a range of possible issues.  First of all, it could be that you are sat too far from, or too close to the TV or monitor, which can result in eye strain and headaches.  Be sure to adjust your screen and seating arrangement so that you are at an appropriate distance.  The table below shows suggested viewing distances for a range of common screen sizes.
Screen Size (Inches)
Minimum Viewing Distance (Feet)
Maximum Viewing Distance (Feet)
28
3.5
7
30
3.75
7.5
32
4
8
36
4.5
9
38
4.75
9.5
40
5
10
42
5.25
10.5
46
5.75
11.5
48
6
12
50
6.25
12.5
52
6.5
13
54
6.75
13.5
56
7
14
58
7.25
14.5
60
7.5
15
Once you have got your distance right, it is time to consider your seating position.  Perhaps the most important factor here is to ensure that you have got adequate back support to avoid straining it.  Also try to be conscious of the fact that you may lean forwards during intense periods of gaming – so try to ease yourself back into a comfortable position.  Cushions and pillows are of course an obvious solution.  If you are into driving games in a big way then you may even wish to consider investing in a gaming chair.
The final issue to consider in your seating arrangement is how high the screen is in relation to you.  Ideally the centre of screen will be in line with your eyelevel.  However, the popularity of wall-mounted TVs dictates that the screen is often higher than the user’s seated eyelevel.  This of course means the user has to tilt their head upwards for optimum viewing, which can result in back and neck problems.  Where the vertical angle between the centre of the screen and your eyelevel is greater than 20° you should make adjustments.  If dropping the level of the TV down to an appropriate height isn’t a possibility, then think about sitting on something taller to reduce the angle to an acceptable level.  Also, you have the option of buying a neck support to take some of the strain that constantly looking up can place on your neck and back.

Controller ergonomics
In the past 3rd party controllers have been somewhat of a no-no due to the fact the quality has not been the best.  However, in recent years some manufacturers have taken the issue more seriously and begun producing controllers that can not only match the official Sony and Microsoft offerings, but which seek to surpass them in terms of performance.  A great example of such a product being Gioteck’s HC-1 PS3 controller.
You will notice that the left analogue stick and D-pad have been switched to a layout that Xbox owners will be familiar with.  The result is a second nature stance that FPS users may find more comfortable to use.  Rubber grips and thumbsticks mean that the pad is less likely to slip from the users hands.  As a result the user does not have to grip the pad as tightly, reducing the likelihood of strain injuries.  In addition, the pad is a chunkier than official Sony pads – a bonus for gamers with large hands who can find the standard pad painful to hold over long periods.
Whatever console you own, it is certainly worth spending a little time looking at the 3rd party controllers on offer to see if any of them suit your specific requirements.
Protecting your ears

When it comes to gaining an advantage over opponents, more gamers are opting to invest in cup-style headsets complete with surround sound.  The improved speakers give the user a better understanding of what is happening in the game and where, from a hiding enemy reloading his gun, to a racing opponent sneaking up on the outside of the track.  Gaming headsets can also prove to be a welcome investment for others in the house; who will no longer have to listen to your frag fests as you battle into the early hours.
When picking out a headset, be sure to look for models that utilise breathable micro-fibre materials on the ear cups for added comfort.  Whether to go for a wired or wireless model is down to personal preference and possibly your budget.  However, you should bear in mind that a wired headset introduces the possibility of getting tangled and maybe even tripping as you try to make a quick dash to the kitchen between games.  This can especially be a problem if you like to do your gaming in the dark, as you can easily forget about the wire.
If you do decide to invest in a gaming headset, then protect your ears by not having the volume ridiculously loud.  You should be able to hear even the quietest of game sounds with the volume set at a sensible level.

Guest Author Bio: John Palmer recommends any PS3 gamers that suffer from hand pain should take a look at Gioteck’s  HC-1 PS3 controller.