World of Fat

Steve Easterbrook, boss of McDonalds UK, recently blamed video games (among others) for obesity:

“I don’t know who is to blame,” Mr Easterbrook says. “The issue of obesity is complex and […] there’s a lifestyle element: there’s fewer green spaces and kids are sat home playing computer games on the TV when in the past they’d have been burning off energy outside.”

Well, yes. The days are long gone when children amused themselves by running around barefoot throwing stones at cats. In this part of the world, at least. But it seems to me that TV and . . . what are those things? Oh, yeah – books! – Seems to me that TV and books have been keeping kids sedentary (and better educated) for quite some time now.

Meanwhile, Ian Bogost and friends at Persuasive Games are about to release a video game about obesity called Fatworld.

From the Creator’s Statement:

Fatworld is a videogame about the politics of nutrition. It explores the relationships between obesity, nutrition, and socioeconomics in the contemporary U.S. The game’s goal is not to tell people what to eat or how to exercise, but to demonstrate the complex, interwoven relationships between nutrition and factors like budgets, the physical world, subsidies, and regulations.

By creating a model for the way public health policy, economic forces and social trends interact in the US, Fatworld crafts an argument about the causes for obesity:

Our culture and environment are actually structured to discourage healthy habits. Refined sugars, trans-fats, and preservatives pervade supermarket foods. Packaged foods make our overworked lives more convenient at the hidden cost of poor nutrition.

Unlike any other medium, the game can actually model that structure and allow the public to explore it and see how it works first-hand. Sounds interesting. Can’t wait to give it a try.

The game will be released Monday 14 Jan 08.

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One thought on “World of Fat

  1. Fatworld sounds interesting.

    Meanwhile I couldn’t agree more about books and TV encouraging a sedentary lifestyles, given this it’s strange how computer games have become such a ‘folk devil’. Fear of the ‘new’ or ‘unknown’ perhaps?

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