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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The World of Warcraft’s Gone Mad

Posted on July 31, 2009. Filed under: Misc. Geekery | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

((Before I get into the article, I will NOT be playing GTA IV. I tried. I failed. Immediately. Mario recommends Halo 1. Any ideas for a beginner such as myself? Please nothing cutesy. Had enough of that.))

Here’s a little entertainment for you during this post. The title’s a play on the title of the awesome collaboration between Handsome Boy Modeling School and Alex Kapranos of Franz Ferdinand, “The World’s Gone Mad”:

I came across this article a few days ago, Addiction Therapists Signing Up to World of Warcraft.

The funny thing is for most of high school, I wanted to become a therapist (people always came to me with their problems because I’m trustworthy or some shit, so why not legitimately make some money off of it? Oh, and help people. Right). Mario becomes addicted to games easily and focuses intensely (he’s currently driven to finish off Fallout 3). He’s even been knocking around the idea of joining WoW again after he finishes building his computer.

Never thought I’d actually say this, but THANK GOD WE ARE POOR BASTARDS.

But who needs WoW, when Star Wars: The Old Republic will be out next year? And that’s when Princess Daisy and I both become MMO widows.

So the deal with the article is therapists are actually JOINING MMORPGs, observing patients, and administering therapy in their patient’s addictive environment. Tricky business, especially if the therapists may become addicted themselves, then all hell breaks loose and there are suddenly no more boars to slaughter, so no more backdoors to level up, pussies!

But probably going (NSFW, duh) Clockwork Orange on all their asses would be best for WoW addicts. (God, I love that soundtrack. Ludwig Van)

The program sounds both simple and convoluted at the same time (as all sciencey things invariably do). Therapists join the game, create avatars, play the game, and all that jazz. They also recruit what they call “peer mentors” from those who do indeed play WoW, but are somehow miraculously NOT addicted –Isn’t it usually a cycle where you play 16-hour days for weeks, then just get burnt out and not play for several months to get another job to support yourself –that is until you pick up the latest expansion pack and then quit your job and resubscribe? I thought with WoW, you’re either an obsessed current player, or else an obsessed player on furlough.

Here’s what makes me itchy, though: Therapists are crossing their fingers that Blizzard Entertainment will give them discounted rates, or else all together WAIVE the fees because it’s–OH NOES!–pricey.

But that’s the cost of business, right? It would be written off as a business expense come tax time. I don’t know how it is in the UK, but in the US therapists get paid around $200-something an hour, and that’s a middle-of-the-road therapist, so why the hell can’t they pay the $19.99 for the game disk, and the $29.99 and $39.99 for the expansion packs ONCE upfront, then the 15 bucks per month to subscribe? Really? And I would hope that the people they would be treating on WoW would be paying them through their insurance and co-pays for their in-game therapy.

Technically, they are being PAID to play.

As an aside, I recognize that the $200 therapist fee does not go straight into the therapist’s pocket. It goes towards their receptionists, rent, bills, etc as well, but it’s all in the cost of business, and with WoW, there’s A LOT of business to be found. So I say the cost of playing WoW is far outweighed by the business that would be generated in their practice through WoW.

How CAN you get cheaper than 15 bucks a month on such an immense game as WoW? That’s $180 a year, granted, but they’ll make that one year’s subscription all back in ONE HOUR. At least their addicts aren’t hooked on something like cocaine. Then their immersion therapy would be a hell of a lot more expensive, and you could NEVER get a discount on that shit, even the stuff cut with baby laxatives. …Not that I know, but I could imagine. Then again, one of the therapists in the article is quoted saying that WoW is “more addictive than crack cocaine.” Would HE know?

And, let me guess, those “peer mentors” aren’t paid, but are “volunteers”. Am I right? Every time I’ve ever worked with the title “peer mentor”, it’s been on a voluntary basis, and the fact that I improved another person’s life was my payment. No indication one way or another in the article, but I think I can be safe in my assumption, or perhaps their only compensation would be a free month depending on the number of hours they put into peer mentoring, and a liter of Mountain Dew with a long crazy straw.

What. The. F##K? Maybe I should become a therapist so I can exploit WoW users and even Blizzard themselves.

Let’s say Blizzard does indeed give a discount (or even waives their fees) in an effort to cure gaming addiction. Does this mean therapists and even doctors can now count on Jack Daniels to help foot the bill at the Betty Ford Clinic, or maybe Big Tobacco can pay for Grandpa Jim’s double-lung transplant? But all the while the patient and their insurance still pay, so they get paid TWICE.

So Blizzard would be literally PAYING to lose customers because those unfortunate souls got a well-intentioned but misfired therapy that the patient is ALSO paying for that cures them of wanting that specific addiction, rather than treating what DRIVES them to addiction. Once their WoW addiction is supposedly cured, the poor sods will find an addiction elsewhere because many people are hardwired to just be addicted to something; anything. And then they have to pay for more therapy.

I was at first intrigued and even in support of this online therapy idea, but now after reading the article and seeing all the WTFs involved… Let me say, I am amazed I have defended WoW. Holy hell.

I’ll take The Rapist for $400, Alex.


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