Greatest Hits 2009: Are All Gamers Fat?

by Ameron (Derek Myers) on December 24, 2009

While the Dungeon’s Master team enjoys some well-deserved vacation time, we’re breaking out the greatest hits and shining a spotlight on a few of our favourite articles from 2009. We’ve searched for hidden gems that our newer readers might have missed and our long-time readers will enjoy reading again. Enjoy a second look at these greatest hits from Dungeon’s Master.

Sterling may not post often at Dungeon’s Master, but when he does he certainly knows how to generate discussion and debate. In this article he looked at the type and quantity of snacks our gaming group consumed during a night of D&D. Although this particular night was atypical for our group (although not by much) it’s sadly the norm for many other groups out there. There’s a reason that the fat gamer stereotype exists.

Once a week our group gets together to play D&D, and while we play we eat some of the most unhealthy snacks available. Sure they taste great, but as six intelligent guys with over 30 years of university and college education between us you’d think we’d realize just how bad this decision really is. If we were teenagers with raging metabolisms we might be able to get away with this kind of weekly binging, but we’re all in our mid 30s and have careers that mostly involve sitting and typing for 8 or more hours a day.

Sterling is a pharmacist in real life and has extensive knowledge of the working of the human body. By using our group as a case-study it certainly opened our eyes and with any luck it hit home with a lot of our readers. We still eat junk when we play, but since running this article we have (tried to) cut back. Most of us have switched to diet soda and on occasion we actually have healthy snacks. I don’t think Sterling expected anyone to change radically after reading this article, but if it generated discussion and got gamers taking stock of their snacking situation then I think it did its job.

So as we stuff ourselves with Christmas turkey this holiday season, keep this article in mind as a cautionary tale. The occasional indulgence may not be so bad as long as it’s not your typical behaviour. If you eat a lot of junk during your weekly game, make sure that your diet the rest of the week is a little bit healthier.

From June 12, 2009, Dungeon’s Master once again presents: Are All Gamers Fat?

There I was, playing D&D and stuffing my face with chips and soda pop. I stopped mid-bite and realized that my gaming night food consumption might be the reason my fortitude defense fails me one day down the road. I wondered if every gaming group consumed as many calories (or more) than my group. Sure there are the clichés about beer and pretzel games, or the oft heard “Where is the Mountain Dew?” references, but is this what other gamers eat? Beer, pretzels and Mountain Dew?

So I decided to use my group as a case study and I tallied up the food and beverage choices we made one week to get an idea about what we were eating, count up the calories just to see, and then average that out between the six of us.

I have to confess, this wasn’t a mission to get my group to eat healthier. By recording the calories we consumed I’m not trying to point the spotlight on our possibly unhealthy level of sodium intake or why none of the group has washboard abs. I just thought it would be an interesting look into our Sunday night routine.

One thing I will caution the reader about is the strong likelihood that we may have changed our dietary habits because the group was aware that I was monitoring their intake. Indeed the very act of observing behaviour can inevitably change our behaviour in some way. Of course I also picked a night we ordered pizza which we don’t normally do. Perhaps over time we will change our consumption, but I don’t expect that we’ll be eating veggies or other healthy snacks anytime soon.

Beverages

  • 10 cans of CocaCola Classic (355mL)
  • 5 cans of Coke Zero (355mL)
  • 2 bottles of Keith’s India Pale Ale (341mL)
  • 2 bottles of water (500mL)

Food

  • 1 bag Doritos Sweet Chili Heat (265g)
  • 1 bag Doritos BBQ (265g)
  • 2 Jamaican beef patties
  • 2 large pizzas (1 – Pepperoni, Bacon, Sausage; 1 – Pepperoni, Green, Pepper Ham)

This is the total count for everyone, not individual consumption.

Calories

  • 1 can CocaCola Classic – 160 calories
  • 1 bottle Keith’s Inda Pale Ale – 145 calories
  • Coke Zero – 0 calories
  • Water – 0 calories
  • Doritos – Sweet Chili Heat 250 calories/50g
  • Doritos – BBQ 260 calories/50g
  • Jamaican beef patty – 215 calories
  • Pizza – 308 calories/100g; each slice was 81g

Totals

  • 1600 calories of CocaCola Classic
  • 290 calories of Keith’s India Pale Ale
  • 1325 calories of Doritos Sweet Chili Heat
  • 1378 calories of Doritos BBQ
  • 430 calories of Jamaican beef patties
  • 5987 calories of pizza

11010 calories grand total for all six guys at the table.

1835 calories per gamer.

This number isn’t as bad as I originally thought it would be. Sure that’s a lot of calories, and sure 3 of 6 were drinking 0 calorie beverages, but with a mean daily requirement of 2,500 calories a day, we averaged 73.4% of the recommended daily intake. I would have thought that we were consuming above the recommended daily intake level.

So how typical was our experience? Do you think your gaming group consumes more or less calories on an average night? What do you eat during your game? Anything other than beer, pop, pizza, chips and pretzels? We want to know if we’re the same as gamers everywhere or if we’re six abnormal guys with hollow legs.

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Alric December 24, 2009 at 11:26 am

Don’t know how I missed this one when it first appeared – an outstanding post.

Maybe this is why the owner of my local game store (who stocks gaming-related T-shirts) refers to shirt size XXL as, “the gamer’s size medium.”
.-= Alric´s last blog ..The conflict-first approach to adventure design =-.

2 Thor December 30, 2009 at 10:25 pm

I personally can vouch for gamers not being fat, if only among my friends and compatriots here in school and back home. Most of my players are actually D1 athletes or high school athletes before they came here. The biggest guy we have playing is a heavyweight wrestler who looks alot like his barbarian character.

3 snuh January 2, 2010 at 8:43 pm

It’s not just about your health – better eating can make for better games. We used to eat similarly, but we noticed that we would get sluggish/bloated/cranky/sleepy as the sugar and caffeine wore off. We made a concerted effort to eat better and it made a huge difference. It’s not like we’re eating broccoli and granola, but just better than pizza, soda, and doritos.

As for whether gamers are generally fat, most of my group isn’t but when I go down to my FLGS and look at the other customers, I think we might be the exception.

4 Perrin Rynning January 13, 2010 at 4:15 pm

It’s an interesting question. I’ll toss in a request for an additional breakdown: are tabletop gamers (mashing pen’n’paper players with computer game players) more likely than LARPers to be out of shape? The gamers’ “real lives” may also impact this question. How many gamers have active jobs, or otherwise take exercise seriously when they aren’t gaming? And as snuh pointed out, how many gamer widows (or widowers) offer high-quality, home-cooked snacks? One game group in my recent past offered hand-made bread with all kinds of healthy ingredients during a long session, as well as “throwback” Mountain Dew with real sugar (as opposed to that corn syrup stuff everyone’s arguing about).

5 Ameron January 14, 2010 at 10:09 am

@Alric
As long as you’re not filling out one of those “gamer medium” T-shirts then I think you’re ok.

@Thor
I suspect your group is in the small minority with regards to physical excellence. While RPGs will attract people of all shapes and sizes it seems to appeal more to the heavier folks. But believe me I couldn’t be happier that we’re finally seeing more and more gamers not fall into the fat guy stereotype.

@snuh
D&D and snacking will always be linked. You’re absolutely right that changing what we eat is the most important first step. Healthier snacks are a great first step.

I too have found that the majority of the gamers at my FLGS sadly define the stereotype.

@Perrin Rynning
The lack of physical activity in the lives of table-top gamers or anyone who sit at a computer all day long means that they’re more likely to be heavy. Combine that with poor diet and you get fat gamers. Sad but true. We need to make more effort to eat healthier and be more active. It sounds so simple but we find it so hard.

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