Doctor… Nobody here is qualified to tell you what to do, and armi’s still in residence training. (I don’t even know what his specialty is to be honest.)
Sounds like you will have to cut down on playing. You’re stressing your finger(s). You might be past a certain point and have carpal on that finger. Only a doctor will be able to say for sure.
I generally play games for an hour or less, sometimes only 15 minutes. It’s a combination of interest – I lose interest fast and just don’t want to spend my entire day doing one thing – and also avoiding stressing parts of my anatomy that I hear other people do all the time. Carpal tunnel syndrome is very common among artists, office workers, and computer operators in general. I wouldn’t be surprised to here more game players are developing carpal. When you perform certain repetitious tasks all day without taking breaks and do that on less than ergonomic (comfortable, healthy) circumstances, it’s not uncommon. That’s part of why there’s a huge industry for comfortable office chairs and ergonomic keyboards and mice.
The big reason I NEVER picked up a serious arcade-playing was because of the quality of the parts and configuration of the buttons used for American arcades. They’re the Happ parts with the button layouts for BigFoot! My hands just aren’t that big and the joysticks always felt funky to me. It wasn’t until I picked up a Mad Catz Rd 1 TE – among the first shipments (and long since modded for personal wants) – and experienced Sanwa parts that I felt comfortable playing with joysticks most of the time.
I’ve never played games enough consistently to really get into trouble. I’ve always quit when I started hurting or well before that. When you feel worn out or hurt, you shouldn’t keep playing… It’s asking for injury just like continuing to exercise with a very sore back or running with a strained tendon or ligament. You have to stop and let yourself recover from injuries. That means stop exercising or at least take it down 75-85% until you fully recover.
You might be more comfortable in the future with an Astro City button layout for your fingers. It follows the curvature of the hand more naturally than the Viewlix layout common with the first and second generation Mad Catz TE joysticks. Many people think it’s a far more comfortable button layout and it seems to be the one people comment on the most or put on a “want list.” It’s the preferred Hori configuration for their HRAP 2 and 3 joysticks as well as the newer HRAP A (the Soul Calibur V and later joysticks with the new case design).