The Gamers Death Sentence

I am fat

Yep you heard it first here, I am fat. Of course the people around me already know that (or do they, most of them weigh more than me). Two hundred and fifty pounds is just too much for a man my size and age. Another wakeup call for me is that my younger sister just got diagnosed with type two diabetes. Now this is not to much of a surprise since both my grandparents have diabetes and my mother shows signs of it(along with other family members). But so far I have avoided it and if my younger sister has it then that train most likely is heading my way and I recommend no one stay on the tracks if a train is coming.

For the past few years I have flirted with weightlifting and adjusting my eating habits. Exercising is not always easy for me because while I actually do enjoy working out my laziness is profound. Sure I can blame the fact that my workout partners all quit or that I got injured about eight months ago deadlifting (totally my fault). But the fact is that I would prefer to spend my time playing games then working out. Even that one hour feels at times like a huge sacrifice to my gaming habit. And that leads us into why I would write this in a blog that I have predominantly written on gaming.

If you wander through the halls of Gencon or any convention with gamers of any stripe for the most part you are going to see two main types of men (exceptions exist and if you are one good on you). There is the ultra “I look like a meth head” skinny and the “my God man put down the snickers” fat man. This is a common denominator across gaming wether card games, online games, or role playing games. Many of us got into gaming young and most never had much athletic acumen or potential. Combined with this many of us have social related issues, low self esteem, adhd, and all the other garbage that attaches itself to young human beings that wish to escape into other worlds and you have a recipe for disaster.

Whether skinny or fat most of us gamers are truly in danger of killing ourselves. Some of you may be laughing about that especially you younger gamers out there but please believe me you are killing your selves. I am now in my late thirties that means I have over twenty years worth of experience in gaming. I am watching my roleplaying groups age before my eyes. We already have hypertension, diabetes, and early cases of heart disease. We have friends that are just in their forties that cannot walk unassisted. Think about that you are in your forties and you need a walker. Not because of some genetic problem but because they and I have abused our bodies. I am watching those I have gamed with die day by day far earlier than I should. Very soon we will have our first dead gamer in our group do to their life style choices and sometimes I wonder if I am the only one that sees it.

What is even more tragic is that many of us are not stupid. In fact I have met some brilliant and creative minds during my gaming. People who if they would have applied themselves could have made their own mark in the worlds of science or writing (some have). Their potential often times it seems to me gets drowned out be the gaming experience. I suppose that is a blog for another time, but what I am getting at is that we have some very smart people doing some very dumb things. People who can think their way out of diabolical puzzles, that can create whole worlds out of thin air, and that have the mental sharpness to evaluate a whole room of LARPERS and determine how to manipulate them all. But they dont have the ability to eat a balanced diet or get some exercise.

Ask yourself this, if you have a character in a game and a man comes up to him and offered to trade him thirty years of fun lazy time for twenty years of painful hardship and death would you take the deal? I know I wouldn’t but unfortunately I am afraid that like many others I already did and did not know it or more accurately did not care.

So what can we do? How do we take a bunch of lazy gamers and turn them into health conscious jocks? Well you cant without a wish spell and I bet we are all out. So what is the next best thing? In my opinion it is starting small and a bit of phycology. You need to play upon two of the most powerful forces of gamers laziness and competitiveness.

First laziness, this is a key factor not just in gamers but all people. It is a curse of the modern world that it allows us to survive and still indulge our laziness. But laziness has a counter and that is interesting “things”. You do not get up off the couch to go and look at something that is boring unless you have too. The couch is your friend and you do not want to leave your friend. But you do leave the couch when there is something to see or do that interests you. Curiosity, new experiences, and pleasurable pastimes these are what we need to find for our lazygamer. The exploration of cooking and trying exotic foods. Or the discovery of places that they have never seen around their town or city. Or perhaps even the idea of spending a little time with loved ones that you do not get to see often. But the key here is to combine those things with gaming in a way that it is seamless and that they do not notice until it is too late.

The second is competitiveness, this is the driving goal for many gamers. They compete by playing games so that they can feel a sense of pride, accomplishment, and at times even adoration. If they were more physically inclined these would be the people on sports teams but that ship sailed along with my coordination. Gamers want to test themselves against their peers, game systems, and themselves to prove that they can win. So what we need to do is combine fitness with goals that can be compared to others. I know different people lose weight or gain strength at different speeds. But motivation for the gamer is tricky, it has to be more than just a goal it has to be something that the gamer believes will test him against others. It is finding a way to set goals that keep things interesting and fair. Some way to convince the gamer that they are not exercising so much as competing against their friends and the activity just happens to be physical.

So what I propose to all of you GM’s. DM’s, parents, and friends look at your gamers and consider ways that can get them doing things physically and ways of changing their diets in small increments. For instance LARP gm’s when you are speaking to players one on one or in small groups. Dont just sit at a table in a back room somewhere. Instead just start walking slowly as you speak. The players WILL follow you and not even think about it. GM’s, or hosts propose potlucks but instead of asking them to bring random things ask for cash or give out a list of foods. Just conveniently make them healthy AND interesting. A green salad is not interesting but a green salad with mystery ingredients that many do not recognise is. Parents bring your gamers snacks instead of having them go and grab them. Many times when we are playing a MMO or video game we just want something to munch on and if it happens to be a healthier choice like frozen grapes or apples and peanut butter we usually will not complain because we did not have to get up.

In the end it doesn’t really matter if you concoct some scheme to trick your players or kids into doing activities or if you challenge them. All that matters is getting them use to the idea of eating or doing things that leads to better health. Our lives are so short and the lives of the gamer is oftentimes shorter still. But more importantly is the quality of that life. It is humbling to see people who previously could do all those things we take for granted over time lose that ability early in their lives. But does it really have to be that way?

Do I HAVE to be fat?

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