Those around me will no doubt by now be sick of talk about the diet I’ve been on for the last few months. For the record, I’ve always had a distaste for what I call the “Game Developer Physique” sported by so many of our contemporaries, so any slip towards that abyss I consider a total failure on my part. While I’ve never been shy of the gym, a recent trainer schedule ended with the shocking realisation that my weight and BMI placed me just into the realms of “overweight”, which by some twist of fate coincided with the symbolic humiliation of a button bursting off my jeans.
So in addition to ramping up the gym attendance, it was high time for my first serious stab at a diet – specifically one that would kickstart the old metabolism to make it sustainable when going back to “real life”. Thankfully, I have the support of a similarly enthused exercise nut in MJ who has joined me in this challenge and proven invaluable in terms of forcing good food habits on the both of us.
As such, I can say that after just a couple of weeks of cold-turkey I found it really easy to manage, all the while eating better quality food than ever with the only downsides being the extended time to prepare meals and, hardest of all, facing the social challenge of not drinking around others, (each of the major spikes above being a piss-up). In addition to completely changing my food intake and greater exercise, part of this project involved picking up Wii Fit as a means of exercising at home while playing. However, much like every other Wii enterprise, I quickly found the exercises tedious and low-quality to the point of the balance board being a mere gimmick – how can you possibly get fit by balancing alone anyway? While I used it nearly every day, its scope was dramatically reduced to being nothing more than a fancy set of scales.
What I didn’t count on though, were the reinforcing effects of having your scales directly linked to a self-updating graph, charting progress (and regress) over the following months. These little triumphs are what drives decision making during the day, whereby not only are achievements and mishaps recorded, but calorie intake becomes something of a game to try and go for the “hi-score” in weightloss every day. The latest issue of Wired magazine has its cover and a sizeable section inside dedicated to exactly this – the power of personal data-tracking, with articles on Nike+ and other gadget-related accessories, though for some reason overlooks Wii Fit and its hidden weightloss meta-gaming.
Now with just 9lbs left to achieve the ideal BMI of 22, but with a 2-week holiday and the parents visiting from Scotland in a few days, I’ll once again have to run the gauntlet of alcohol and other temptations – which can be considered something of a boss fight.
In the combined absence of a working XBOX360 and an unreasonably harsh flu knocking me on my ass for a whole week, I’ve been going Old Skool lately with some PS2 and Wii action. Thankfully, I simultaneously ran out of contact lenses so the games didn’t look as bad as they could have so an admitted graphics-whore such as myself was able to muscle through God of War for the first time, Shadow of The Colossus again (that never gets old, or ugly for that fact) and now Mario Kart on the Wii.
Now, Nintendo is second only to EA for peddling the same franchises year on year with only minor tweaks and updates, and Mario Kart Wii is no exception – but once again, (and I’ve been playing this same game since high school), it’s an absolute blast – especially in team mode (co-op). What impressed me most though, and therefore resulting in this post, was the online experience – my first with Nintendo.
Being used to XBOX Live’s often unsavoury company of middle-American cowboy attitudes further shielded by online anonymity, as well as the downright embarrassing experience of being a grown man playing with children, it was refreshing to simply play a game against complete strangers that could not be interacted with in the slightest outside of the actions presented in gameplay – ie. throwing shells etc. I used to hate the idea of Friend Codes, (Nintendo’s enforcement of only being able to choose online opponents you already know in real life), but when I come to think of it, I rarely play against folks outside private matches on Live due to the aforementioned issues.
Every race, I am shown the geographic loaction of each participant on a spinning globe, (and the matches are truly international based on when you jump online), with only their smiling avatar and name to distinguish them. No headsets. No trash-talking. No ChildKilla69 or Assr8p firing bigoted insults with every other headshot- just a clean, simple race to the finish with friendly folks sporting names like Bill, Jake, Canadagirl and WingMario. I fantasize that, unlike the petty XBOX crowd, I was playing against similar young professionals as myself. Doctors and lawyers, designers and architects all kicking back in their loft appartments after a hard day’s work – donning the Nintendo avatars of which we all share a particular nostalgia, or their own personalised yet similarly cute Miis.
Sometimes ignorance is bliss.
[Last night, on the way to see Iron Man at the movie theatre with Marie-Jo:]
Me: Can I just take 5 minutes in HMV beforehand?
MJ: We only have 30 minutes to eat :( We’ll have to get in line and…
Me: I won’t be long baby. I just need to pick something up.
MJ: Everyone was talking about the movie on the subway train here – it’s gonna be a huge line-up. What is it you want?
Me: You’ll see. Just give me 5 minutes…
[…5 minutes later]
Me: Here you go baby. Remember the game you were working on for a year and a half?
MJ: OMG! I completely forgot it was coming out today!