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I Can't Feel My Legs

Outdoor recreation (in the form of fishing, hiking and visits to national parks) has declined by 18-25% since the 1980s, apparently. TVs and games are, predictably, being blamed. This is entirely unfair - the reason I haven't left the house in four days is because I've been waiting for couriers to turn up with some hard drives I have to review. "Between 8am and 5.30pm," they say. So why is it always 5.29? I maybe should have run up and down the stairs a few times to stop my legs atrophying, though.

Anyway, while I'm loathe to jump atop any games'r'bad'm'kay bandwagon, I am acutely aware that I do, of late, tend to spend the hours of 9 till 8ish sat in one place, in front of two monitors. I - and others like me - probably should be outdoors playing French Cricket and wrestling mountain goats more often than we do. The study further posits a possible grim future in which we simply care less about the great outdoors, resulting in a decline in conservation efforts. Hmm.

"The replacement of vigorous outdoor activities by sedentary, indoor videophilia has far-reaching consequences for physical and mental health, especially in children,” says Oliver Pergams, one of the chaps behind the US Nature Conservancy's study. “Videophilia has been shown to be a cause of obesity, lack of socialization, attention disorders and poor academic performance.”

Well, "has been shown" means a lot of things, so I'm not too worried about that part. The more damning evidence is that this trend of anti-outdoorsmanship appears to have begun in the 80s and 90s, periods synonymous with the rise of home video and videogaming. Officially "videophilia" rather than specifically gaming or TV is blamed, though I'm sure convenient smoking guns will be found by some commentators. In any case, it's still hardly a surprise revelation - but is it, in your experience, an accurate one? Does gaming impact your partaking of country air? If it does, do you care?

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Alec Meer avatar

Alec Meer


Ancient co-founder of RPS. Long gone. Now mostly writes for rather than about video games.