This just in: playing World of Warcraft will turn you into a 400-pound monstrosity with 5 chins and a gut hanging down to your knees. So will reading, watching TV, browsing the Internet, and playing chess. All of these things will eventually make you morbidly obese.
That is, they will if you abstain from all physical activity.
A lot of people seem to miss that crucial stipulation. I’ve come across far too many misguided tirades aimed at massively multiplayer online role-playing games like World of Warcraft that claim that players of such games are nothing more than fat nerds with no life who live in their parents’ basement. Really? Simply buying a subscription to WoW adds 200 or so pounds instantly? Of course not. It’s a baseless claim made by people who want to act sanctimonious. Or, even worse, by people who were overweight WoW players and are turning a blind eye to the behaviors and habits that really made them fat, preferring instead to find a scapegoat.
Why pick this specific topic? Well, I play World of Warcraft. I’ve been a subscriber for the past five or six months. And yet, my weight is proportional to my height. I have a friend who has been playing for longer than I have, and he’s in the same boat. Guess that blows the theory that all WoW players are overweight right out of the water, doesn’t it?
So what does make people overweight? A number of things, but it seems that it’s commonly bad habits combined with lack of physical activity. In other words, if you eat junk food all the time, spend hours in front of the computer every day, and never get on a treadmill, you’re going to be horribly out of shape when compared to someone who eats junk food only occasionally, spends less time in front of the computer, and exercises regularly.
The important thing to remember: World of Warcraft and physical activity are not–I repeat, not–mutually exclusive. Sure, WoW itself doesn’t require any movement beyond your hands. Neither does reading. And what kind of insane person would suggest that reading makes you fat?
Finally, there’s the claim that WoW is designed to be addicting. I’d really like that one explained to me because I don’t see what’s so addicting about grinding and questing my ass off to gain a level just so I can do it all over again until I reach the level cap and have to kill real people instead. (Note: when I say “people”, I really mean “computer-generated avatars of real people”. Just to avoid any confusion from the crazies who think I’m advocating real-life violence as a form of entertainment.) Besides, getting addicted to WoW is like getting addicted to gambling. You played too much and didn’t know when to stop. That’s not the fault of the game, considering there are plenty of people who play WoW and lead perfectly normal lives free of addiction.
Anyone who rips on WoW players as being fat losers who never move needs to think back to any time they curled up in a chair and read a book for a few hours. Any physical activity beyond turning the page? If not, how is it any different? Spend hours upon hours reading Shakespeare’s assorted works and snacking on Cheetos and you’re going to end up the same as if you had spent hours upon hours playing WoW and snacking on Cheetos: overweight and unhealthy. Think about that.