The following article was written in sponsored partnership with Queensland Health.
Regular physical activity as a way to improve one’s health or simply keep everything in balance is not exactly new information. But what often gets forgotten is that through repetition, you also get better at both physical activities like running, bike riding or just generally playing a sport as well as something purely mental like solving the next puzzle room in The Legend of Zelda. Practice makes perfect, as they say, even when looking at the world of videogames.
Where, in an Inception-like way, your own skill at taking on the next digital challenge is mirrored by your digital counterpart.
In Bethesda’s The Elder Scrolls, going back to the classic entries Morrowind and Oblivion, the seminal role-playing series gives players all the tools required to become the next hero in a sprawling and detailed fantasy world. And in taking on this role, the act of improving or getting better at taking on each challenge the game throws at you is not limited to coming to grips with combat mechanics or learning exactly when to strike a certain type of monster. The trick on that front is to usually wait until just after they do their big, heavy attack.
In true role-playing fashion, using your character to do just about anything in The Elder Scrolls helps them grow existing or learn new abilities. Walking a huge distance to reach the town of Cheydinhal in the eastern parts of Cyrodiil in The Elder Scrolls: Oblivion not only gives you the player a better understanding of the world and the digital journeys you’ll embark on - but your character or hero will improve physically right before your eyes. Tracked, in that typical RPG way with a statistic called Athletics.
The role-playing or RPG genre is one that ties growth, improvement, and digital well-being to statistical categories. Strength, intelligence, endurance, the ability to wield a two-handed weapon, or as seen in the sci-fi classic Mass Effect, the somewhat catch-all talent called ‘Fitness’. Stuff that in these digital worlds full of adventure and wonder, keeping it all in balance directly affects your chances to succeed and make a mark. Or even, simply exist without any sort of physical or mental burden.
And that’s the kicker, and the glaring takeaway, is that this entirely applicable in the real-world.
"Stuff that in these digital worlds full of adventure and wonder, keeping it all in balance directly affects your chances to succeed and make a mark."
Okay, so we’ve established that many games have now adopted the idea of simply performing an activity to reward your character with growth in that attribute. In the real world, running regularly means you’ll level up your cardio -- breathing, endurance, leg strength and more all gain in positives the more you do it. The same can even be said of your brain. Reading regularly or performing puzzle-solving tasks has been a proven way to exercise the brain, which is itself a muscle. The more you exercise it, the more productive it can become. An entire series of games was produced around this initially on the Nintendo 2DS handheld called Dr Kawashima’s Brain Training. Titles that became so popular, knockoffs began appearing everywhere, with sites like Luminosity being born from games.
It means anyone can take to this type of exercise which has been proven to sharpen your thinking, and help you excel at school or work.
In the most recent blockbuster release, Red Dead Redemption 2, outlaw protagonist Arthur grows in his three basic stats of Health, Stamina and Dead Eye. Dead Eye isn’t properly applicable here as an example, but when you simply run for a lengthy period, his Stamina improves. Eating regularly, fishing and more all improve his Health. It’s the physical act of doing
that rewards the player, and as we suggested in our previous piece on healthy eating
, if we emulated real-world laziness with our in-game avatars, they’d never survive regular enemy grunts, let alone an end-of-level boss.
The take-away for all of this is that playing games is certainly a great way to exercise your brain, but in-game, we push our avatars to their physical limits too. Why can’t we combine the two in the real-world? Splitting your gaming (brain) time up with physical activity -- even just a walk -- can be a great way to build some separation from just sitting and playing, while leveling up your own physical attributes. And as with all things where balance is concerned, one affects the other -- positively. Professional esports players now train in both mental and physical ways as a means to sharpen their reflexes - both mentally and physically. The bottom line is, the healthier you are inside and out, the better equipped you’ll be to take on that end-of-level boss. Like a boss
Be like your avatars, and move healthily through your world.