World of Workout

A typical work day for most geeks and nerds most likely involves lengthy periods of sitting at a desk, calculating, coding, researching, IRC, etc. A typical evening routine might involve similar activities such as online gaming, coding, researching, IRC, etc.

This sedentary lifestyle has become the norm for many of us who’ve spent more time online than off. Even as I type this, I assure you I’m not being very active. I refer you now to this list of preventable causes of death. Please note the words “preventable” and “death”; they’re pretty serious.

Get off your ass! There are plenty of things you can do that involve physical activity, but perhaps the most common (and most feared among geeks) is a fitness gym membership. This is probably the easiest way to stay fit, and it’s almost exactly like everyone’s favourite MMO…

World of Warcraft!

If you’re unfamiliar with World of Warcraft (or WoW for short), it’s a subscription based multiplayer online game that involves building your character up through challenges and repetitive quests. To compare, a gym is a subscription based multiperson activity that involves building your person up through challenges and repetition.

I recall when I first started playing WoW, and the steep learning curve involved with getting the hang of the game dynamics. I had the same feeling when I walked into the gym for the first time; looking around at all these strange sets of equipment, not knowing where to start. In most gyms, they have exercise stations that have simple instructions posted. With WoW, you have the help of quest givers; computer controlled characters with the function of providing players with a challenge. They’re pretty easy to find, as they have a giant exclamation mark over their head.

Compare: In Warcraft you obtain a quest from a quest giver. “Hello player! You must go to location and kill 12 things and return to me” In the gym, you find a machine or set of weights. “Hello active one! You must lift weight 12 times and then drink water”

When starting WoW (or any other online game), everyone is masked by their avatar. Essentially, everyone is anonymous. This leads to a difficult time for new players, as comments fly around from more experienced players to discourage and demoralize. “NEWB! dont u no ur spell rotation yet?!” In the gym on the other hand, because people are there in the flesh, they are slightly more responsible for their actions and interactions. People are generally polite and keep to themselves.

After a while, WoW starts to make sense, and you find a groove with your character for levelling or progressing. You start to find your favourite “daily quests”; quests that are designed to allow for daily repetition with incremental growth rewards. You will find that after a few weeks attending the gym, you’ll have a routine that you like; say 20 minutes of cardio on this machine, then a round of weights followed by stretching. With both of these routines, you are able to mentally detach from your activity and simply zone out. This allows for a nice relaxing mental decompression period.

The day after a rather strenuous workout, many people wake up to find a stiff or static feeling in their muscles. A good stretch and a hot shower is really all it takes to remedy this. You might be surprised to learn that WoW can be quite exhausting, but if you’ve ever been part of a raid, you’d understand. I was class leader for warlocks in my raiding guild for 2 years. We were farming end game content from Sunday night to Thursday night. As class leader, I was responsible for organizing the other warlocks and preparing them for the run. This meant I had be online by 8:00pm, and have everyone ready to go by 9:00pm. Getting 25 or 40 different people into roles is no easy task, so it takes dedication and perseverance. On most nights, the run would extend far past midnight. There were some weeks where 3:00am was common, several nights in a row as we tried, failed, tried again to defeat a challenge. Going in to work after 3 or 4 nights of this rigorous gaming would lead to severe exhaustion by the weekend. Stretching was no help.

I would say that the one thing I do miss about playing WoW was the teamwork aspect. Getting 40 people together to willingly partake in a militaristic simulation requiring strict role adherence was no mean feat. This is not something you’d find at the gym, but it’s rather humourous to imagine a group of people all pitching in their strength to attempt to lift a large quantity of weight, too large for an individual person.

Don’t forget to loot your hound.