Online gaming has long reached the point where online play in some form or other has become the default assumption of the general term ‘gaming’ in daily conversation. On the one hand, the online boom which attended the pandemic restrictions showed gaming had become a social lifeline for millions, with Nintendo’s Animal Crossing: New Horizons tripling the company’s 2020 profits. On the other hand, for those working from home, it’s wise to hide your phone and other distractions when trying to stay focused.
The ubiquity of powerful chips and wireless Internet access means that online gaming is everywhere. It contains enormous variety, including competitive eSports titles that can fill stadia. At the same time, cross-platform party games like Among Us can be played even on a 7-year-old phone. Also popular as a cross-platform phenomenon is iGaming, with more people playing online poker globally than ever before. While many enjoy playing for cash, free-to-play games are also a phenomenon. Online gaming now spans territories and generations, so staying healthy should be everyone’s concern. Many common health issues stem from the long playing sessions, including various forms of strain and disruption of healthier activity cycles. Here are four tips to keep yourself in check.
Spending half an hour or more cooking might be the last thing you want to do for someone itching to hop into a lobby. But nutrition is about quality of life, including focus, and there’s not necessarily a compromise here. It starts wherever you buy groceries. Resist the urge to reach for the Hot Pockets. Throwing some sweet potatoes in the oven for half an hour before topping it with greens, a squeeze of lemon, and some tahini is easy and delicious. Try a handful of plain unsalted nuts or red bell pepper dipped in hummus for a snack. Avoid excess sodium, saturated fats, and refined sugar while upping those vitamins and minerals.
When you’re questing away in Final Fantasy XIV or locked into a Texas Hold’em tournament, it can be hard to remember that your poor old non-virtual body needs to adjust constantly. While there is a bit of myth-making around ideas of good and bad posture, there is a stereotype of the hunched-over gamer with bloodshot unblinking eyes almost glued to the monitor. So keep a reasonable distance, and make a habit of looking away after a round. As far as posture is concerned, the key is not sticking to one for too long. Get up, and do some exercises for a few minutes, such as sitting cross-legged or kneeling.
A typical recommendation for gamers and non-gamers alike is getting away from the screens at least an hour before sleeping at a reasonable hour. Using blue light filters after sundown, standard features on most mobile and desktop operating systems will also help you wind down and avoid that ‘just one more round of Rocket League’ mentality. For deep, restful sleep that boosts your game, you want to be sleeping when it’s cool, dark, and quiet. A well-adjusted circadian rhythm (sleep-wake pattern) is a cornerstone of broader health. Ensure you’re getting enough sleep — generally, 8 to 10 hours for teens, 7 for older folks, though individuals vary.
Maintaining Fluid Intake
Energy drinks are so popular with gamers that brands are now directly marketed to them. While they shouldn’t be the first choice of a healthy gamer, even those can be better than no hydration, in moderation. The key here is that water is necessary, and drinking it forces you to get up when nature calls. Think about keeping a bottle of water close by for swigging when a Call of Duty session ends. You might also want to have a chilled bottle in the fridge. When sitting out every fourth poker hand, you should walk to the fridge, have a drink, and do some exercises.
Whatever your game of choice is, don’t let it get in the way of a long, fulfilling life. Life is one game that doesn’t have to be zero-sum.