Have you ever wondered about the people behind the avatars they play? Beyond those monitors sit some very colorful characters each with a wonderful array of skills, attributes, thoughts, feelings and desires. Behind the avatar you sit, but have you ever considered why you or other players act the way they do? Besides personality types, IQs and general demeanors could there be other reasons as to why Player "A" is a jerk and Player "B" is a kind, yet quiet individual? In this article I seek to find out what makes the man or woman behind the mask of their avatar, and perhaps shed some light on things I myself have wondered about but could never find answers to.
The Comfort Factor
First I'd like to take a look at what I consider to be one of the biggest factors in player demeanor and overall behaviour during gaming sessions. The comfort one feels while playing or working for extended periods of time on the computer I feel is an integral part to how they act. I know that if I amsitting in older model of chair designed at the dawn of the PC age I will have a sore back, sore legs and sore neck. Let's take for example your typical low-back, non-tilting, no-cushioning flat pad chair that can only move up or down for heights. The back rest is usually hard and flat, supposedly designed to contour to your lower/mid back regions but without any cushion support. Being a low-back support, I find it forces be to be hunched over while I play or work. The seat of the chair is usually rather uncomfortable as well and after about two hours I start feeling pain in my buttock region.
By the time I am through maybe 2-3 hours of gaming I am in physical pain and not the best of moods. I find that if I stick around longer and endure the pain I will be more inclined to act out towards other players and generally act like a complete dickhead to those around me. I use this example because I recently was using a chair like this which caused me to stay away from the computer and actually made me in a worse mood because of it. After upgrading to a much nicer, more modern manager's high-back chair (netting in at about $169.99 CAD plus tax) I have found that I can sit on it for 6 plus hours without pain and be in a much better mood. My back, arms and neck are supported nicely as well as my ass being good and cushioned. Nowadays I'd suggest spending a fair amount of coin on chairs especially if you're going to do a lot of extended gaming sessions. You will most likely be spending $100 all the way into the thousands of dollars for this accessory but as I said above I bought mine for under $200. For the less-advantaged gamer I'd suggest either keeping to a range of $100 to $300 or make your own (which I'll cover next).
If you don't have much coin to spare have no fear as there are some neat solutions out there. There is the homemade route and it can be just as nice as any expensive manager or exec chair. My personal favorite homemade gaming chair is the homemade BMW luxury model front seat. You can find one relatively cheap from most auto-wreckers or parts dealers. You don't have to go for BMW though as you can go any make or model. The top suggestions I'd say would be BMW, Buick or Cadillac. Keep in mind you will most likely have to design the chair from the seat down (neumatics, height adjustment, tilting, casters). Making your own chair can be fun and very cost efficient and will satisfy you all the same as a "real" computer chair.
I could suggest plenty of chairs to buy but you'd be better off sticking to your budget and if you are buying retail, stay OVER 150 bucks. Manager or executive chairs are the way to go as well as the stylish Sumo brand of gaming chairs. I don't mention desks because I have no real preference. The comfort is all in the chair for me.
The Fullness Factor
Food. Yes, food. Many people often forget to eat when they game. It often slips my mind from time to time and I ignore my instincts, but not only is it wrong to starve in lieu of gaming but it is very unhealthy to do so as well. If you suffer from diabetes or hypoglycemia and are an avid gamer who typically ignores the grumbling menace known as hunger, you may do and say some things you can really regret later. Even people without those afflictions can have mood swings from lack of nourishment. When I don't eat I often become angry, annoyed, tired and sad. I find that after eating I will generally have a ton of energy and be in a good mood. Even if you aren't a big eater, you may want to consider some snacks to munch on during the long sessions, as well as a thirst quencher of course. I don't mean energy drinks either. Water, juice, milk and teas can be great company to whatever munchies you're packing and will keep you from dying of dehydration of course.
I still say to each their own on this one as only you know what you like and don't like, and what your limits are. Common sense helps too as well.
The Body Wellness Factor
As gamers many of us are subject to a wide array of shut-in afflictions such as obesity, lack of sunshine (paleness), loss of muscle and of course laziness. There are many other health issues people may have as a result of sitting on the computer all the time but I think weight gain is the most dangerous of them all. I myself suffer from obesity and have been for a very long time. It's not fun and a lot of it is a result of late night gaming and junk food blitzes. This one relates to what and when you eat as well so keep that in mind. If you're like me then you probably tend to skip meals and have a big binge at some point during your day. This has been proven to be bad for your body for a number of reasons, one of those being that your body holds on to the fat and stores it abnormally. This causes weight gain and can lead to other related issues. Your metabolism slows down to a crawl and you find that no matter what you eat, you cannot lose the weight. The answer is simple, though. Three square meals a day with small snacks in between. This means a large breakfast, mid-sized lunch and a small dinner with snacks to fill the gaps. The snacks should be healthy things like fruit or veggies. You should also refrain from eating close to your bed time as your body doesn't break things down the same way when you sleep.
Exercise can make a difference too. It doesn't have to be a huge workout or anything, but it needs to get your heart beating. A brisk walk around the block, a few situps or a 20 minute aerobic session can do the trick. Combine that with eating at the proper times and the right amounts and you will keep the weight down even as a gamer (or a hermit).
Sleep is a big part of wellness of the body too. Getting the right amount of sleep for your age bracket is crucial to your success. Teens and young adults usually sleep for around 8 hours or so. Adults typically ranging from 19 to 50 will typically sleep around 10 hours while elderly people will sleep 6-8 hours or less. You might not fit into the norm though so find the amount right for you. At 23 currently I need about 10-12 hours of sleep to function at full capacity.
The Mental Wellness Factor
Tragically many gamers or computer addicts have mental issues either caused by chemical imbalance or some form of psychotic breakdown. A typical mental ailment is GAD or Generalized Anxiety Disorder as a result of depression. Personally I suffer from depression and anxiety and can sometimes let it take over and ruin my gaming sessions. I've had breakdowns during nightly raids, anxiety attacks while grinding experience and the constant feelings of derealization and depersonalization. It can take a toll on your life and especially your gaming.
When you feel down and out, you may push it on your friends who will sometimes not want to hear about it. People might think you're crazy and not want to be around you anymore. You may find you take out your aggression on others which can severely disrupt your gaming life. None of it is pretty and it's not a fun time for you or anyone else around you. Your best solution in this department is to seek psychiatric help and obtain either medication or another treatment plan to get things under control.
Sometimes meds won't do it either. Sometimes you need therapy, guidance from others like you or from registered professionals. Sometimes you may even need a drastic life change. This might mean putting a dying marriage to rest, moving to a new part of the country or seeking out a new profession. Often times dwelling on the past can really screw a person up and so in order to fix that you need to make a change and try something new. It's not always easy but can be well worth it and may eventually get you back to your regular gaming self.
A big thing to remember too is that your real life comes first. See to it that your RL affairs are in order before escaping to another realm.
Overall I'd like to note that I am not a professional in the fields of nutrition, body or mental wellness, but a gamer with some advice from my own experiences. Take it or leave it. Even if you are a well-rested, comfortable, healthy individual you may just be plain miserable for whatever reason and may just act like a dick all the time in which case my advice won't help you.