No, I’m not talking about Wii fit. Or even Dance Dance Revolution. Actually, I lost weight playing a Massively Multiplayer Online Role Play Game. Specifically, Ragnarok Online (commonly referred to by its acronym RO).
Before you go thinking “That’s brilliant! Why join a weight loss program when I can play games!?” I should probably point out that this was not a healthy way to lose weight.
It certainly wasn’t my intention to lose weight when I set out playing RO.
The general stereotyped assumption of us nerds is that we like to sit in front of our computers consuming food, playing games twelve hours a day and not doing any form of exercise. One can assume that this stereotype has lead to the image of the fat and acne-ridden nerd. Whilst this applies to me in some degree, I somehow lost weight playing games. But how?
Allow me to explain how it happened. I first picked up RO around 2005 when it was first introduced to Australia. It was the first ever MMORPG I had ever encountered and it blew me away.
I became incredibly absorbed in playing it, grinding hours away to level up my character. Usually sometime throughout the day I would raid the fridge/cupboards in between meals to snack. I eat a lot when I’m bored. Instead I found myself completely immersed in the world of RO, skipping snacks between meals.
So I somehow narrowed my food intake to a basic three meals a day, as opposed to three meals a day plus morning tea, afternoon tea, dessert etc.
It wasn’t long before my meals were taken in front of my computer, to save time. Because I was so distracted in the game the taste of whatever I was eating didn’t bother me either – as long as it filled me up. So my meals became healthier (vegetables anyone?). During short breaks I would quickly make a dash to the fridge and raid whatever was there. Think along raw carrots, apples, celery, whatever I could get my hands on that could instantly be consumed. Zero preparation time was a necessity.
Additionally, I always kept a glass of water at my table. Whilst it was irritating everytime I spilled it on my keyboard it kept my water intake to five glasses a day.
Short sessions soon turned into a daily lifestyle. I was happy to click away, eat and drink in front of my computer. The only time I left was pretty much to use the bathroom and go to sleep. Even then my thoughts were only on where I should level my character next, or what item I should be hunting. It didn’t even bother me that I was dreaming about the game.
Eventually RO went pay-to-play and because I was unemployed at the time, I had to drop the habit and go back to the real world. Some of my friends declared that they hadn’t seen me for a while.
But I went back to a healthier lifestyle of being slightly more social and not spending ten hours in front of my computer a day. I had lost about 2-3 kilograms in total. For someone who is lanky and underweight as it is, it wasn’t cool. When World of Warcraft came out I was wary in joining up but eventually caved into peer pressure. Fortunately, (and to my relief) I maintained a degree of restraint in playing the game and history did not repeat itself.
I wouldn’t recommend this method of weight loss to anyone. It’s just not healthy. Nowadays I am careful to make sure I eat enough and try and keep my gaming time punctuated with regular breaks. Remember, the key thing to long gaming sessions – Stop, Revive, Survive.