Gamers beware: as our appetites for video game consumption rapidly increase, a Warrawong doctor has warned about the health risks.

According to figures released by the Interactive Games and Entertainment Association, last year’s annual sales across the Australian industry increased by 20 percent to 2.46 billion dollars.

However the rapid growth in the gaming industry is affecting more than just our bank accounts. According to research undertaken by Bond University, the average Australian is a gamer. 70% of households contain two or more gamers who play video games daily, spending up to 14 hours a week in front of their computers or TV screens.

The rising popularity of gaming contributes to an increased amount of time Australians spent playing computer games, and prolonged exposure in front of a computer or television screen can have a negative impact on our health.

Doctor Jessica Swann, general practitioner at Warrawong Accident and Medical Centre says that the effects of avid gaming can include short sightedness, headaches, back and neck problems, and repetitive strain (RSI) injuries. An increase in obesity because of limited physical activity is also a possibility.

Dr Swann suggests that to avoid theses effects, gamers should spend more time staying active: “It is important to maintain a healthy lifestyle by taking breaks and keeping active if we choose to, or are forced to, spend long periods of time in front of a computer or television screen,” she said. “Making sure to continually look away from the screen and blinking repeatedly can also help with prolonged exposure for a number of hours at a time.”

19-year-old student, Maddie McKechnie admits that she finds it hard to maintain a healthy lifestyle, as a lot of her spare time is spent on gaming. As a game reviewer and writer for Geekbomb, McKechnie understands the importance of awareness regarding the health effects associated with avid gaming.

“Most gamers know that sitting and staring at a bright screen for hours on end, moving only their hands and wrists, isn’t great for their health, but they continue to do it,” she said.

“Perhaps this is because they aren’t completely aware of the actual consequences such behaviour can cause over a long time period.”