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Batman's Crippling
Bar Harbor
My wife often refers to my videogaming as "killing things" (typical usage: "Are you going to go kill things now?"). This is because many (though by no means all) games follow a basic play loop of "kill things and take their loot".

One of my recent games has been "Batman: Arkham City". I first started playing it about a year ago, but got distracted by other things, and recently re-started it. I should say up front that I think this is an excellent game, even if I am going to proceed to discuss some of its failings.

In Arkham City, you aren't *technically* killing things, 'cause Batman has a code against killing. Instead, you just beat thugs into unconsciousness and/or break their bones and/or leave them dangling helplessly from gargoyles. This sort of thing is dubious enough when it happens in the comics, but in the fiction of this game, it's even worse. Arkham City is a lawless prison, with different criminal gangs in a constant state of warfare. To leave a foe helpless in this environment is "not killing" only by the narrowest of margins.


As many of you know, about a year ago, I started having issues with chronic shoulder pain. This was diagnosed as being due to a combination of years of bad ergonomics with oncoming arthritis. I've been in physical therapy on and off since then. The PT has greatly improved my arm strength and my range of motion. It *was*, after months of work, finally getting the pain down to a reasonable level. But a few weeks ago, I had a major relapse, and am struggling with high pain levels again.

Now, I'm not *certain* what brought on the relapse. It might have been the sudden temperature drop, or a spike in the spiciness of the food I was eating. It could be something I didn't even notice, or a combination of many factors. And, of course, I wouldn't have been vulnerable in the first place without years of prior abuse. But I can't help but notice a correlation between sudden increases in my pain level and playing Batman: Arkham City.

I have reached the sad conclusion that I probably can't play "action" games any more :( They just inflict too much punishment on me to be worth their pleasures. I may still be able to play FPSs, as long as I keep them set to Easy, and stick mostly to sniping.

So now, I empathize more with the ordinary thugs than I do with Batman. To Batman, each individual thug is no more than a minor speed bump in his progression through the game. But to the thug, meeting Batman means suffering serious physical damage, almost always including a concussion, and injuries that may cripple him for a lifetime.

After all, Batman crippled me.

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Hey, Alexx, this is Bryan (map of Dragaera). I also have shoulder issues (my right shoulder), but mine was diagnosed as a Repetitive Stress Injury. It flares up when I have to press and hold a mouse button for extended period of times (prior to this, I didn't realize how much of finger-pressing involves the shoulder). I can play FPSs just fine, but games like Diablo are right out.

One solution I found was to use AutoHotKey to map a key I could press with my left hand to simulate the mouse button being down (or for some games, like planet-scanning in Mass Effect 2, a button that acts as a button-down toggle, so I don't have to hold anything down at all). Maybe something like that could help you offload actions you normally do with your injured shoulder to the other shoulder?

Thanks for the suggestions. They could be useful for some low-to-medium action games. I think Batman is just too intense, though :-(

Oh, no! I'm sorry to hear it.

Your thoughts on Batman reminded me of something I heard about pre-Communist Tibet: there were police-monks who would beat bandits and other miscreants within an inch of their lives, then if they did, it was their own bad karma. Nothing to do with us monks, yer honour.

As for the pain, I sympathise (in the literal sense of the word). Early this year I had a nasty case of cervical spondylosis (read, pain in the neck), probably brought on by years of unergonomic computer use. And yes, mouse use can make it relapse, and action games are the worst for this. On the bright side I recently found that, in addition to the exercises my physio gave me, kettlebell halos work really well. So I could perhaps alternate between action games and actual action.

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