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Give 'em room! Bystanders injured by video game players

Catherine Arnold writes: When it comes to video games, some people don’t let anything stand between them and a high score. Not even bystanders, it seems, who are turning out to be the collateral damage in the quest for video game greatness. A new study of injuries that occurred as a result of, say, an over-eager dash at the electronic pins in Nintendo Wii bowling or the swing of a racket in interactive tennis shows that bystanders were being injured in the line of fire. The study, done by the American Academy of Pediatrics, looked at the 696 video game-related injuries reported between 2004 and 2009. Of those, nearly one in five injuries were to bystanders while the rest were to those playing the game. A common injury to bystanders was facial laceration (ouch!) as well as trauma to the shoulder, ankle and foot. Most injuries happened when a player was mimicking the movements done in actual activities such as boxing, bowling and tennis, researchers found. Dr. Patrick O'Toole, the lead study author, says that he and his colleagues became curious about the real injuries from virtual, interactive games as they grew in popularity: "We felt that the injury pattern would be significantly different to traditional gaming injuries." So, how to prevent facial lacerations and other icky injuries from overzealous gaming? O'Toole says, "Participants should be able to freely mimic the activity without being impeded by obstacles." In other words, they should be able to arc the tennis racket, move their bowling arm back and forth lustily, and even downward-facing-dog without someone standing right next to them. Or, to boil it down to two very un-scientific words: Stand back! Have you ever injured an innocent bystander during a fast and furious Wii tournament? Or have you ever been injured this way?