Virtual Scares to Health Scares : A plea to Gamers and Devs
During researching for last weeks post about horror games, especially with the added immersion of VR headsets, I came across a few alarming headlines warning about one of the possible side effects of some of these types of game : Death. Not of the in game kind either. Back in August at Unite 2014 Denny Unger, Creative Director at Cloudhead Games said “We are very close to having the first death in VR” . Its no secret that gaming, game development and various other jobs related to computers and technology require a lot of time sitting in front of some sort of screen, in one way or another periods of ‘prolonged sitting’. This can lead to various sorts of health problems and issues, and can spark off underlying conditions as well, many of which have been documented and reported on various websites in thorough detail, and many of which you may have seen and looked at before with a passing glance and rolled eyes. This is a plea, to those of you who are in that group of people, to start doing something about it, and if not safe your life, help your present and future body out. I promise I’ll get back to the fun stuff next week.
The first thing that everyone can do, and nearly nobody does, is take regular breaks of roughly 5 minutes every hour to stretch your legs, flex your wrists and fingers, readjust your eyes, get a drink or snack, or go to the toilet. Just doing this can make a big difference, as it gives your body a break, keeps your circulation going and breaks up a whole host of problems related to sitting immobile for long periods. If you do nothing else after reading this article, get your regular breaks in. Even if you do take breaks though, theres still more you can do, and for this article im going to sidestep the nutrition side and focus on the other, much more loathed side of health, yes that’s right, the dreaded ‘E’ word : Exercise.
Already I can hear the groans, whines and exclamations at the mere mention of the word. Everyone knows they should get some exercise as often as they can, but many people don’t. You might consider yourself immune because you arent overweight (something I used to believe myself), but studies have hinted that immobility is just as dangerous as obesity. Any amount of exercise is better than none, but a good amount for most as specified by NHS UK is 30 minutes of moderate to intense exercise a day, or 150 minutes a week, where moderate exercise is described as something that elevates your heart rate and gets you out of breath.
There’s an overwhelming array of information out there about exercise, and a huge amount of ways to get your exercise in, everyone knows about cycling, running and swimming but there’s plenty of other activities that count, like dancing, trampolining, paintballing, and pretty much any martial art. If you’d prefer to exercise at home there’s a wealth of advice, images and video producers out there, a small sampling of which I will list at the bottom of this article.
Of course, the number one excuse for not doing exercise is ‘I don’t have enough time’, and I call it an excuse because its pretty much that, as a gamer or programmer, you can always make a little time by breaking your exercise up into chunks. Coding? Do 5 minutes between each code segment. Animating or drawing? Do it in between each completed animation or sprite. Multiplayer gaming? Do it in between each mission, or each completed game. Are you a streamer? Even better, do it with the camera on you, spread the word, encourage your viewers to do it with you.
Thanks to the large amount of quality content creators out there on the internet, there really is something for everyone, and there are a lot of friendly communities out there that will advise you wherever they can and ensure you aren’t alone. Remember : A short amount of time each day or week can make all the difference, and you’ll start feeling the benefits quite quickly, you’ll be more energised, focus better, and keep warmer as the colder winter temperatures start drawing in. With all that said, I repeat what I said earlier, if you do nothing else after reading this : take regular breaks and take care of yourself. Good luck!
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