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Whenever I play my Game Boy or Game Boy Advance for a long time (more than an hour), I noticed that my neck starts to hurt from bending down to look at the game. I also start to get some finger pain from gripping the game system too tightly. I've tried many different posture changes such as laying on my back, laying on my side, sometimes even laying on the bed on my stomach with the Game Boy dangling in my arms. My question is, does anyone know the correct posture to play a hand-held device for a long period of time?

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closed as off topic by StrixVaria, Fluttershy, OrigamiRobot, Jupotter, Mark Trapp Sep 12 '12 at 1:27

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There is no correct posture to play a hand-held device for a long period of time, as our biomechanics aren't at all suited to the task. The correct remedy is to take breaks. Depending on the source, anything from 5 to 15 minutes per hour is recommended. –  SevenSidedDie Sep 11 '12 at 19:34
    
If you are sitting up straight you will involuntarily hunker over your handheld and start to get that neck pain. I sit in a slightly reclined chair so that it's harder to involuntarily lean forward, which in turn helps shift the stress off of my neck. Finding a comfy spot to rest your arms is the caveat after that - a chair with big armrests helps keep the handheld near eye-level without straining your arms too much. –  Sadly Not Sep 11 '12 at 20:18
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meta.gaming.stackexchange.com/questions/1949/… –  user9983 Sep 11 '12 at 21:30

3 Answers 3

Let me preface this first:

I am not a doctor or medical professional so if you are experiencing serious problems you should seek one out rather than relying on what I'm about to write.

Being an avid handheld player (I travel a lot), I also have to deal with the issues you come up with frequently. Here are ways to alleviate some of them, though there's really no way that I know of that can completely eliminate the issue other than not playing.

For neck pain:

  • Take frequent breaks. Being stuck in one position for long periods of time is never good no matter what you are doing. Luckily, with modern hand helds, simply closing the lid (NDS) or pushing the power button (Vita) will suspend the game, allowing you to continue exactly where you left off later. Take this time to stretch a little bit and rotate your neck.

  • Changing your position often is good, but also try to keep the hand held at near eye level (more tiresome for the arms for long periods) so you don't have to constantly bend your neck while playing. If you can't, considering tilting your back instead of bending the neck.

For hand pain:

  • Alternate between different games. This may be harder to do, but some games require different forms of input and activity and can alleviate problems. For example, I play a very input intensive game (Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom) on my vita, but I also rotate between a less stressful game (hot shots golf, very light on button presses), FF7 (almost nothing happens unless I input something), and Plants vs Zombies (pure touch screen). If I play MvC a lot, my thumb starts to ache from constant manipulation of the analog, so I like to switch to other games that doesn't use the analog.

  • Consider buying a hand grip for your hand held. There are a lot of grips out there that can greatly assist in holding your hand held so you don't have to grip it as tightly and thus allow your hands to relax more.

  • There are also lots of hand exercises you can do to help.

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Avoid bending your neck awkwardly and try to prop your elbows so you don't hold the weight of the device on your elbows.

Overall, proper posture for handheld games or other handheld devices aligns very similarly to proper posture for reading a book, except you don't have the option to simply set the device on a reading stand of some sort.

Like books, handheld gaming devices don't lend themselves well to proper ergonomics over long periods of time. You want to keep your neck straight and not have to hold your arms up awkwardly. Best you can do is prop up your elbows (on the armrest of your chair or your desk) and try to get the device as close to eye level as possible.

If you go for propping your elbows on a desk, keep in mind you want to keep your back straight as well -- no hunching to get to the desk. Also keep in mind other standard ergonomics for desk sitting -- feet on the floor, knees bent, back straight.

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Get into a comfortable chair, make sure the hand held device is right in front of your face. It works for me.

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