Want to look good naked?
Sure, we all do. But would you believe that gamers might have an easier time of it then most? It’s true. The qualities that gamers apply to their hobby can easily be applied to bodybuilding.
When Brian Wang and Dick Talens (pictured. Yeah, they're both the same guy) met at the University of Pennsylvania in 2004, neither one was physically fit but both found that what drove them to play games could also be applied to working out.
“People don't realize that video games are an expression of personality," Talens said. "There's certain qualities that people have. They're obsessed with improving the stat sheets, getting to the next level; they pay a lot of attention to detail. Guys who play ('World of Warcraft') ... are very intense about whatever they do. They can turn that addiction and all its characteristics into fitness."
Dr. Richard Ryan and Dr. Scott Rigby, co-authors of Glued to Games: How Video Games Draw Us In and Hold Us Spellbound, lay out some of the psychological aspects of weight-lifting that gamers find appealing:
"In video games, you're constantly getting information about your achievements and (learning) how to do things better,” Ryan says. “There's an opportunity to develop a mastery that's very much a key motivator."
Rigby added, "Games make the goals really clear. You have to run from point A to point B, deliver a message, kill this bad guy. You have a very clear sense of 'If I just do these steps, I will succeed.' And let's call them quests because it sounds heroic. And who doesn't want to feel like a hero?"
Another important aspect of gaming and bodybuilding is the social component. “You're relying on each other,” Rigby said. “You really need the other person to watch your back and vice versa. (Games) build in a sense of 'I matter to others; others matter to me.' "
Capitalizing on the idea that bodybuilding can appeal to gamers, Wang and Talens have started Fitocracy, a website that turns fitness into a game. How does it play? From the website:
“To play, just enter your fitness activities on the Track page every day. As you enter your activities into Fitocracy, you’ll earn points. Over time, you’ll earn enough points to get to the next level. Leveling up means you’ve been keeping up with your fitness. But watch out, every so often leveling up unlocks a special challenge. Beating the challenges and leveling up means you’re making progress :)”
Challenges are optional activities designed to push users out of their comfort zones, such as tasking a bodybuilder with a running a 5K. Completing challenges awards bonus points.
The site also features achievements and leaderboards.
-Reporting from San Diego, GamePolitics Contributing Editor Andrew Eisen