The face of video games has changed: no longer are they the preserve of anti-social teenagers who spend hours shooting targets with their thumbs. Today, it’s a more mature man who spends hours playing at home, often in a specially designed, comfortable gaming room, with competitiveness that transcends the boardroom.
The Entertainment Software Association, an international body in charge of gaming, confirms that the average gamer is 35 and has been at it for the past 13 years, while the most frequent game purchaser is around 40. But the South African Heart and Stroke Foundation cautions that they’d be better off indulging in exercises that will whip them into shape. According to the foundation, at the turn of the millennium, 20 men and 26 women over age 30 died each day from lifestyle diseases and lack of regular physical activity.
There’s no doubt that gaming for hours encourages a sedentary lifestyle and heightens the risk of injuries of the hand and wrist, muscle and joint problems, as well as eye strain. The psychological effects of compulsive, solitary gaming are also worrying, since it prevents men from socialising and spending time with their partners and children.
Metro FM’s Quentin-Paul Masina (aka the Naked DJ) is a gaming enthusiast who’s been playing since his teens, and who admits that the technological enhancements found in today’s consoles give the hobby even more appeal. On an average day, Masina spends about an hour’s downtime playing games, while on free weekends he wakes up at 7am to play his PS3. He only emerges at around midday for lunch and then returns to the screen for another session. “Gaming is very addictive,” he says. “I have an Xbox 360 in my lounge and the PS3 is in another room plugged to a HD plasma TV – I make the time to play and I love it.”
Fortunately, he’s well aware of the health risks associated with a sedentary lifestyle and ensures that he gets a daily dose of exercise. During a game, he also makes a point of moving around frequently in order to get his blood circulating and he protects his fingers with Band Aids whenever he plays.
The gaming industry has also risen to the challenge by introducing the latest version of Nintendo Wii, which focuses on electronic games that are specifically designed to get the heart pumping.
So there you have it, guys – in gaming, as in everything else, moderation and b