Everyone has heard the stigma around gamers that they are unhealthy, lazy, and overweight. This has been the stereotype of gamers for many many years and some may still think these things when thinking about avid gamers. With the world constantly moving in a healthier direction, gamers decided that this was not who they wanted to be anymore. They realized, there is no reason why we can’t love video games and still care about our health.
As more and more studies came out regarding the negative effects of physical inactivity, unhealthy diets, and extended amounts of screen time, gamers started to realize how harmful of an impact they were having on their bodies. According to a study run by Harvard Health Publishing, sitting raises the risk of obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, deep-vein thrombosis, and metabolic syndrome.
As these studies started to surface and were being shared across the internet, gamers decided doing what they love most was not going to be the death of them. So they decided to start making a change, and here’s how…
Ever since the health impacts had been realized, a lot of gaming influencers took it upon themselves to be role models for their audiences. To encourage their audience to be physically active by doing it themselves. This started an entire merge between fitness content and gaming content. Gaming creators were now making gym content and fitness influencers were making gaming content. Encouraging and showing their audiences you can do both!
Popular streamers such as NICKMERCS, TimTheTatman, SypherPK, and many more started a new trend of workout streams. This is where instead of doing their regular stream of them playing their favourite video games, they would set up the camera in their home gyms and go through an entire workout routine while their audience could watch, learn, and engage with the creator while they were working out!
A retired Halo professional who goes by the name of “Flamesword” would always push his workout routine to his audience as well as healthy eating habits and recipes. One of his most popular videos is a workout video entitled WORKING OUT WITH 100 THIEVES NICKMERCS amassing over 870,000 views while only having 262,000 subscribers. Seeing their favourite streamers take their health more seriously is very inspiring to gamers. And based on comment sections, and encouraged them to start doing the same. All while still enjoying their favourite games!
In December of 2007, Nintendo released what would become an entirely new genre of video game by releasing the game Wii Fit. They created a video game that would use the Wii Balance Board Controller to register weight distribution to properly track your movement on the board. This game featured a variety of exercises such as yoga, strength training, aerobics, and balance mini-games to turn what might be a boring activity into a way to have fun and stay fit!
The game was very well received in the gaming community receiving a score of 80% by both Metacritic and GameSpot and was able to pave the way for the upcoming workout releases. After Wii Fit was released the Xbox Kinect came out in November of 2010 and the Kinect really took what Nintendo did with Wii Fit and ran with it. They create an entire collection of games that require you to physically get up and move your body. Each game had its own gameplay and story, but at the core was created to encourage people to get up and move. The Kinect sold over 35 million units as of October 25, 2017, and sold 8 million units in the first 60 days of release making it a Guinness World Record holder for being the fastest-selling consumer electronics device. This was only the beginning.
Then along came VR when the Oculus Rift was released in March of 2016. Although VR had been around beforehand, the Oculus Rift really popularised the VR headset and began the big push into VR gaming. This was of course the perfect opportunity for companies to begin creating physical activity video games for these VR headsets. As these headsets continued to evolve and become wireless it made things even easier. Games like Supernatural, a game that allowed you to work out, box, stretch, and meditate in amazing different locations all around the world, making fitness a lot more fun!
The video game Beat Saber was released and took the internet by storm. Tons of content creators were posting videos of them playing this game. This game was a perfect disguise for a workout. Everybody saw how cool the gameplay was, and were able to play their favourite songs, all while not realizing the kind of workout they were putting themselves through.
As more and more studies and research goes into how we can keep our bodies healthy and physically active, the gaming industry is going to continue to change and adapt. There are so many opportunities within this industry to not only break the stigma but push it in the opposite direction and make it an industry known for its intense workouts and a go-to activity when people are looking to break a sweat! One day people will be able to brag about their health and say “I achieved these goals by playing video games”.3