Heavy gaming mice are tiresome

I recently got an email from someone using the Zaunkoenig M2K primarily for work instead of gaming. He made an interesting observation:

«Not only is the M2k amazing for gaming, it blows all other mice out of the water, even for productivity. The addition of the ceramic scroll wheel makes the M2K a viable option for a work and productivity mouse. I do IT for work and frequently use my mouse throughout the day, maybe even more than my keyboard. I didn’t realize it, but I think I was experiencing fatigue by the end of the day from using other mice. With the M2K; due to the low weight, fantastic scroll wheel, speed, and extreme precision, I notice a huge difference in levels of fatigue and even work satisfaction.»

The typical reaction you get from a Logitech G502 wielding alpha male, when you tell him that a light gaming mouse is less tiresome than a heavy one, is a condescending «Do you even lift?», implying that instead of worrying about light gaming mice you should add some muscle mass to your body.

However: the muscles in your hand are not built for strength and endurance. They are built for precision. And precision and high weight do not go hand in hand. That is why it is not at all crazy to claim that a heavy mouse will fatigue your mouse hand.

A tiresome experiment

So I decided to do a little experiment. Since I have been using Zaunkoenig prototypes with a weight of 20 to 30 grams for almost a decade now, I could not remember how it felt to be using a heavy gaming mouse all day long.

Luckily I still have a few of my old gaming mice. I hide them away in the dark corners of a drawer. I took a look into this drawer and decided to use an old gaming mouse of mine that weighed in at roughly 80 grams. With a weight of 80 grams this gaming mouse was not exactly lightweight (with just 24 grams the M2K weighs less than one third, for comparison). However your typical office mouse most of the time will clock in at much more than 80 grams. Office mice typically are extremely large and stuffed to the brim with extra buttons, hence these behemoths can easily weigh 130 grams (that is five times as much as the M2K).

The first thing I noticed was the fact that the middle mouse button had developed not accidental double clicking, but accidental triple clicking. It is hard to overstate how annoying it is when you use the middle mouse button to click on a link, and end up with three instances instead of one. But I digress.

The second thing I noticed was obviously the increase in weight. There is just no way you do not immediately notice three times the weight. And you notice that constantly, not only for the first minute or so. Everytime you move the mouse you can feel the weight working against you.

What I did not notice however was fatigue or pain. At least at first. At the end of day one I was noticing that I had developed the habit of frequently taking my right hand off the mouse to give it a short massage with my left hand. The reason I did this was that even after just a few minutes of using the drawer mouse my right hand was tensed up considerably. At the end of the first day my mouse hand was feeling crampy and indeed achy.

The second day was a little less painful, but I still had the urge to frequently massage my mouse hand. At the end of day two my mouse hand felt crampy and achy again. This went on for pretty much all of the first week. Over the course of the next three weeks the feeling in my hand at the end of the day gradually changed from crampy and achy to just tired and exhausted. I noticed that I was looking for excuses to stop working at my PC a little earlier. Using the mouse had stopped being something that was fun. It was a burden.

At the end of week four I aborted the experiment and went back to an M2K. Not only did I not feel tired or exhausted at the of a day: using a mouse was fun again. I think I would be able to switch back to an 80 gram mouse long term, without experiencing pain. However I think the feeling of fatigue at the end of the day would never go away fully. I am also pretty sure using an 80 gram mouse would never be truly fun, no matter how well you adapt to it. And when you work at your PC all day long: should you not try to make that as fun as possible?

Try it out for yourself

Disclaimer: Obviously I am biased towards the M2K and obviously I am not a study of one hundred thousand identical twins. Maybe, for example, the high weight of 80 grams was not the only thing fatiguing me: the drawer mouse also was too tall and too long for my hand. Maybe the experiment should have lasted one year instead of one month; but there is just no way I would to that my right hand.

In the end claming that heavy objects will fatigue you quicker than lighter objects is not a very daring claim. Especially when you consider that the muscles in your hand are precision tools instead of heavy lifters.

So how about you give this a try for yourself. Switch back to the heaviest gaming mouse you have and force yourself to stick with it at least for a week. And then, at the end of every day you have spent at your PC, be very conscious about how your mouse hand feels: does it feel more tired than you yourself feel?

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