Saturday, July 24, 2010

Eating Healthy



If there's one game I honestly didn't expect to fall back into playing so diligently, it would have to be Pokémon SoulSilver (i.e. merely the latest in a recycled series of titles with a very exploitive focus). However, I am able to easily determine the reasons why this happened. First and foremost is that I'm not passionately invested in anything else on the horizon now. Sure, I'd like to play StarCraft 2, but my appetite for it is rather full at the moment. That metaphor though, leads to my post here tonight.

This is a Google Health excerpt on Bulimia:

Overview

Bulimia is an illness in which a person binges on food or has regular episodes of significant overeating and feels a loss of control. The affected person then uses various methods -- such as vomiting or laxative abuse -- to prevent weight gain.
Many (but not all) people with bulimia also have anorexia nervosa.

Symptoms

In bulimia, eating binges may occur as often as several times a day for many months. These binges cause a sense of self-disgust, which leads to self-induced vomiting or excessive exercise.
Body weight is usually normal, although the person may perceive themselves as being overweight. In a person who also has anorexia, body weight may be extremely low.

  • Abuse of laxatives, diuretics, or enemas to prevent weight gain
  • Binge eating
  • Frequent weighing
  • Self-induced vomiting
  • Overachieving behavior

Now, this isn't the first time I've related the digestive process to how people at large play their games. Yet I keep coming back to the parallels because they're so spectacularly humorous to me (not to mention ironic). In a world full of people obsessively, shallowly, and pointlessly obsessed with their health and eating right, gamers are a bunch of nitwits who aren't immune to such social conditioning. This is to say that the number of gamers I know who are conscious about their body and constantly wish to change it through the healthy consumption of sustenance are also paradoxically ludic when behind the controller.

Put simply, this is the culmination to a statement on my own quotes page (of which I am the author, as far as I know anyway):
The majority of gamers have simply opted for gluttony instead of range.
Burnouts, apathy/ennui, and even overly cynical/academic analysis of games kind of result from the unchecked moderation of playing titles now. People don't dare question this, as it's a firmly standing foundation in terms of the industry's own admitted abuse of consumerism. Since most of us have tailored ourselves TO that foundation, we defend it rather than question it, and now we suffer because of it as well (yet we blame other things). Most players have become reserved to the ironic sense of their own 'taste' (e.g. "I only like RPGS so I should only play RPGS!") as if it absolves or protects them from such gluttony, but all it has really done to any effective mention is insulate them (and in extreme cases embitter them). 

Now I'm not going to profess to be the exemplar of 'game-playing health', but I will assert my self-consciousness with the titles I'm playing in comparison to others around me. As I opened with, I've been playing SoulSilver off and on for the past three months (currently at 300+ hours) with no regard or care to even the games I know I'm excited for (i.e. StarCraft 2). I've probably been binging on the equivalent of Ramen Noodles for the past few months, but at least I know that. Becoming obsessed with games in their 'fast-food state' is borderline dangerous to one's own perception of the medium (in fact I'd say it even destroys the perception of it as a medium). THAT topic is one so redundant to my blog, I'd rather not even continue there (i.e. playing games on a conveyor belt). So, is there a relevant answer to the question/problem I posed? Well I'd imagine it would mirror whatever mappings of 'eating healthy' are around these days (and since I don't, I have no idea what those are).

Just a thought on what I DO know though and that's the function of how the stomach communicates with the brain. It should be a well known factoid that the human stomach 'lags' in how it communicates with the brain. It takes around 15-30 minutes for the signal to be sent to warn us from eating any more. In that time however, people are accustomed to stuffing their faces, at which point they don't know why they feel like crap afterwards. The far edge of this spectrum features people with 'disorders'. It doesn't matter what they eat, or even when they eat it, just 'how' they eat. Gamers these days are taking 'consumption advice' from people who make a living in the equivalent of circus-style eating contests. The biggest defense here is one that I'm ashamed to hear now myself: that these people are qualified critics of an artistic medium. That's really only applicable in a minority number of cases and it's a playing ground we're still rising to meet, yet we've already started arrogantly acting off assumptions built from it.

I'll have to curtly end it there for now, but I'll just say that my overblown metaphor here needs to be rendered obsolete, invalid, and silly, because at this point it's just not.