Hey Gamers: Pop a Prozac with a Slim-Fast Chaser

Posted on August 18, 2009. Filed under: Misc. Geekery | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , |

File this under “Obvious”.

The Centers for Disease Control, killing time while trying to cure AIDs or cancer, is set to publish a study this October in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine about links between gaming, and health and personality.

This just in: Gamers tend to be fatter and sadder. Yes, mostly causation vs. correlation takes a backseat, but the pattern remains. The psychological and physical profile of a gamer fits exactly with the stereotype: a socially awkward 35 year-old, tending to be male, with a proclivity towards cheetos and frozen burritos, although it mentions nothing about living in their mothers’ basements. They should have asked about that, THEN we’d have a punchline.

But anyone with half a brain can tell you that statistics SUCK. I’ll grant, statistics can be useful, but statistics paint a very cold, and even judgmental picture without telling you the whole story.

PC World brings up valid arguments about how gamers lifestyles and career preferences do lean more toward the sedentary side (usually tending to being chained in a cubicle farm for many hours, like Mario, and after those long hours, you want nothing more than to continue sitting on your ass and pwning some n00bs until it’s time to get 6 hours of sleep).

Not just gaming, but jobs can make you depressed and overweight, life events can make you depressed and overweight, genetics can make you depressed and overweight, cruel school bullies can make you depressed and overweight, that asshole who cut you off on the highway the other day can make you depressed and overweight, and your Mom’s famous tuna casserole made with cream of mushroom soup can make you overweight (but depressed?).

Too. Many. Fucking. Variables.

C’mon CDC, you should know this shit by now!

And the BMI system is an antiquated and flawed one. Schwarzenegger, at the height of his bodybuilding days, was at his peak of health and nothing but kick-ass muscle …and would have been considered obese. FAIL.


A different angle — How about the argument that we humans, despite how technologically advanced we are, are still primitive creatures. We hoard. We gorge. All because our monkey brains have no clue when our next meal will be, even if we are aware it’s spaghetti and meatballs night when we get home from work, yet we’ll still reach for that candy bar because we feel drawn to. Who knows, maybe your car will break down on the way home in the middle of nowhere. Your brain is not fully aware that you also have a cell phone and maybe some flares in your trunk.

Also in spite of technology and how much time it has saved us, we’re still always in a hurry and that hurry seems to just get worse and worse (thanks entirely to a globally-connected economy that puts pressure on business, that in turn put pressure on its employees — not saying being global is bad, I’m just saying HOW it’s being handled is unhealthy). It’s breakfast, but we’re in a hurry–Let’s choke down some pop-tarts. It’s lunchtime, but we’re in a hurry–Where’s the nearest microwave so I can nuke this mega-sized meat and cheese burrito? It’s dinnertime, but I’m in a hurry to relax from my hectic day–Let’s get pizza delivery.

We no longer have to hunt or forage (or, hell, even cook a meal from scratch), but tell that to our primitive brains. You can’t. And I believe THAT is the biggest reason why so many people are overweight or obese. We have advanced technologically faster than we humans have ourselves, creating a large disconnect that we can’t possibly catch up to. Not to say that we’re not responsible for our own damn actions. We absolutely are, just saying there’s more to the story than just making poor choices or blaming genetics (which I feel most people use as an excuse rather than a real explanation. Don’t tell me it’s freaking genetics when you’re getting your third helping of fried chicken and mashed ‘taters doused in country gravy. Save it)

Technology could also be a reason for depression as well. Going back to the cubicle farm and all the globally-connected pressures, this causes stress, which in turn causes depression. This could also then cause a thirst for violence without actual harm, or for simple want of an addiction turn to gaming (or alcohol, or drugs, or food, or hookers, or putting babies on spikes).

That is ONE way of interpreting the statistics. ONE possibility. Another is that gaming itself, regardless of technology and life, causes depression. As far as we know, the study mentions nothing about causality, making the statistics sound nothing more than just pure coincidence.

I fit a great deal of their profile: socially awkward, depressed, connect mostly online, lowered health status, although I am considered a normal BMI, and I am NOT a gamer. I’m trying, but it’s just not in me to be a “gamer”. I haven’t touched Halo 1 in over a week, and I feel no pull to play it even though it’s a damn good game and I greatly enjoy it.

You see, I’m a casual player and a voyeuristic enthusiast.

That sounded dirtier than intended. I like it.



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