The US Consumer Product Safety Commission recorded 13,073 emergency room visits “associated with (but not necessarily caused by)” videogames in 2020. The infographic shared by the commission on Twitter shows a malevolent cartoon videogame controller declaring that it’s their turn next, Luke—and perhaps Luke should be more afraid of “controller face,” because a number of injuries do appear to be associated with the game controllers.
It’s a little unfair to ascribe ill-intent to the controllers themselves, though. There’s a lot of controllers being thrown at or “in [the] direction” of people who sustain controller-related injuries. Perhaps the greater issues there are rage-quitters and irritable siblings. Also recorded are “celebration injuries” and various falls.
That isn’t to say there aren’t genuine hazards with gaming: the data collected highlighted a number of people admitting themselves to the ER due to pain from extended play, frequently back pain, chest pain, and wrist pain. A few people also reported adverse reactions to virtual reality headsets, and while brand names are redacted in the dataset, some of these could have to do with the Oculus Quest 2. The headset was recently removed from Amazon EU storefronts due to the presence of irritants in its padding that affected a small number of uses.
Sometimes a gaming-related injury is just an injury—the person most responsible for you putting a tooth in your ear mid-session is likely you—but sometimes there is a structural fault, as we saw with last year’s Cyberpunk 2077 including a potentially seizure-inducing sequence. Which is why we have things like consumer product safety commissions in the first place.
Regarding the one scorpion injury reported by the USCPSC, it’s hard to fault the game: “15YOF PATIENT SITTING ON THE COUCH PLAYING VIDEO GAMES WHEN SHE FELT A SUDDEN STING ON LEFT BUTTOCK FAMILY MEMBER SAW SCORPION ON COUCH WHERE PATIENT WAS SITTING.”
Back in 2018, Chris compiled a decade’s worth of gaming and computer related ER visits, which include such gems as the tooth-in-ear one mentioned above, as well as people being injured by their laptops in various ways.