After Hours

Fitocracy turns working out into a game

Gamers and bodybuilders may be cut from the same cloth after all. Learn why the social site Fitocracy aims to appeal to gamer geeks.

Gamers, especially hardcore gamers are an obsessive group. My own particular vice, World of Warcraft, is full of obsessive behaviors, like Min/Maxing. For those of you who don't know, Min/Maxing is the practice of slightly altering your weapons and armor in order to achieve a little more damage dealt, damage withstood, or damage healed, depending on your character's role. There are entire sites dedicated to the practice of calculating which piece of gear is better than another, and sometimes in which case.

Because of their obsessive behaviors, I've observed that gamer geeks often come in two varieties: scrawny or overweight. This is because the gamer will go through marathon sessions of Role-Playing Games (RPGs) or First-Person Shooters (FPSs) either without eating or while grazing the entire time and usually on the worst types of food.

Looking at the above two behaviors, the last thing you might associate with a gamer geek would be working out. However, on the website Fitocracy, gamer geeks — and other obsessive- or competitive-minded folks — can use their personality traits to compete against their friends in a social networking environment.

Fitocracy was created by Brian Wang and Richard Talens, two former gamer geeks turned fitness geeks. During the beta, the site had more than 70,000 members with a waiting list of another 60,000 names long. At the time of this writing, Fitocracy is in limited private release.

On Fitocracy, members log their workouts, earning skill points that allow them to "level up." Each level unlocks "quests," which are challenges for the user to push his or herself and advance further or try new types of exercise outside of his or her comfort zone.

Any user could game this system by entering workouts they didn't do just to gain points. But if you're going to go through the effort to maintain your page on the site, why wouldn't you also do the workout?  There's no real gain to contributing other than your own health and fitness, after all.

What do you think about Fitocracy's concept? Are you a gamer geek (former or present) who has made the switch to fitness or at least added it in to your life? Share your thoughts and experiences in the discussion.

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