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.

4 comments
britezRoman
britezRoman

I've just bought myself the PS3 move gun and Killzone (FPS) game. My wife has laughed at how sweaty I've become after a hour of the game. I like it, I get tired, my back hurts my legs are tired and thus I stop playing (have enough other stuff to do, I have kids). Anyhow, I wish they'd drive it up a notch where you were forced to squat, lie down, stand to reflect the position of you character in the game. Have levels force you to achieve a certain level of fitness before continuing on to the next in the context of the game, now that's motivation. By the way, I cycle 40km's a day and still was one wet mess after a half hour of the game. Maybe I'm getting old.

TNT
TNT

The market has room in it for something like this. With gaming consoles offering fitness applications I think there is a place on the web for something similar. Any Geek truly interested in getting into better shape will likely find the service useful. Those that aren't interested will never visit the site.

Chaz Chance#
Chaz Chance#

Some geeks really would just enter workouts they haven't done just to get through the levels. Have you seen how mind numbingly banal some of the popular online games are? The players of those will find reward enough in "unlocking" new exercises, and will probably pay for the privalidge. If my Wii can't get me off the sofa by calling me obese (it means "fat" my daughter tells me) and giving me someone to talk me through the execises and setting the targets to any level I choose, I am naturally not going to be enthusiastic about a gaming workout site. But good luck to all those out there who will sign up for this. I hope it gets you to a happier place.

LocoLobo
LocoLobo

Pro: Gives gamer or competitive types motivation. Allows users to track progress. Provides a place to learn new routines. Con: Since when do gamers need motivation? Will this really motivate those fat/skinny geeks to exercise? People can track their progress on anything including simple notebooks. How good is the teaching part of the system going to be? Especially the free part? One thing that concerns me is the risk of overtraining and injury. It is easy to injure yourself if you're not familiar with a new exercise. "I just need 10 points to beat Mr. X!" OTOH, you don't want people to be too cautious either.