rand(Gamer Food)

I love food.  For anybody that knows me, I think everything can be analogized to food.  Thankfully Ethic keeps me in check here, for without him this would probably be Kill Ten Rats and Grill.  Well this is random week, and here is my one random topic thinly veiled as a gamer topic.  Gamer food is important for MMO players, especially.  We have to maintain strength and energy through long weekend raids.  One poorly chosen meal gobbled down during a bio break can lead to some unwanted gastrointestinal problems right in the middle of the boss fight. We need mental stamina from good meals so we can stay out of the poop, in all senses.

Many of us have skipped entire meals during gaming marathons in lieu of a bag of potato chips or some Twinkies.  The most recent Digital Cowboys podcast (thanks to Andrew from Of Teeth and Claws for telling me about the podcast) records a gaming marathon.  Interestingly enough one of the hosts discussed with some experts on how to sustain the crew through the pixel popping nights.  The answer: stay away from processed sugars, fats, and energy drinks.  The Digital Cowboys ate lots of fruit, juice, pasta, and most importantly, cold water.

The stereotypical gamer food will actually impede the ability to stay up well past the midnight hour.  Caffeinated soda and energy drinks will give a momentary burst of lucidity, but the quick energy will cause a sugar crash shortly thereafter.  High calorie snacks like chips and snacky cakes will just slow us down into a sleepy siesta state ready for hibernation.

Healthy snacking is the way to go.  My personal favorite snacks are baby-cut carrots. They are cheap.  They are easy on the digestive system (compared to gassy broccoli and celery).  And, I can sin a little and dip them in to ranch dressing.  Peanut butter, I know, would be an improvement and give me a hit of protein as well.  Dried fruit and nuts are also good choices.  The added bonus is the lack of crumbs in the keyboards and computer chairs.

The choice of drinks goes hand in hand with healthy snacking.  Now, I won’t even touch the issue of alcohol, and I have had plenty of game nights accompanied with a few beers or a bottle of wine.  Those nights were not important guild event nights where my inebriated, clever jokes impeded on other’s fun.  I digress.  The most important thing when staying up late or gaming for a long time is to stay hydrated.  Soda, energy drinks, and coffee actually dehydrate the gamer.  And pro-tip: dehydration makes people tired.  This is my biggest problem because I love soda.  Love it.  Water is so bland by comparison.  I’ve found juice is a good middle ground, but don’t get any high-fructose corn syrup 10% juice.  Get 100% juice.

With snacking out of the way, let’s get to meals.  Some MMO game events can become all day affairs.  Even if the event does not run through a meal time, after a long tour de force, MMO gamers can be “too tired” to make a meal.  Hot pockets or fast food becomes the fallback point.  Pizza is also another time-worn choice.  Filled with fat and processed carbs, these meals are more likely to knock a gamer out than provide the refreshment to continue gaming.

There are too many options for refreshing meals for me to list.  Grilled chicken* salad and tuna macaroni salad are two good choices that can be loaded with veggies and the dressing tailored to taste.  My favorite is tacos de carnitas.  Buy ~4 lb. pork butt (pork shoulder), cube into 1-1.5 inch cubes, throw in a crock pot with cumin seeds, bay leaves, garlic cloves, fill with Coca-Cola** until meat is nearly covered, turn on low, and walk away for 6-8 hours.  When you are hungry fill a tortilla with quickly shredded pork, salsa, sour cream, cilantro, onion, and/or whatever else, and you have a quick anytime meal that can easily be chowed down during a bio break.  If you want to go more traditional, pair the tacos with radish slices.

With all of this, I must confess I am no saint.  The last MMO snack I had was a big bag of Spicy Thai Kettle Chips.  When I woke up the next morning, the aftereffects were not pretty.  Many times I go to bed depressed because I am tired and am wondering if my gaming was worth the time.  I wonder how often this feeling was created by my nutritional decisions, or lack thereof, instead of my actual play.  Spring is coming, and my CSA bucket should be filling soon.  In writing this, I have thrown down the gauntlet to myself. I’ll let you know how it goes.


*I find grilling a few chicken breasts on Sunday to use through the week for meals, pastas, salads, etc. has been extremely helpful.  Plus it gives me an excuse to do man things with dead animals and fire every week.

**Let me restate: only Coca-Cola. Not Pepsi.  Not Sam’s Club Fizz.  There is no substitute beside a stock cut with water, or merely water with extra salt and seasonings.  Sugar-cane Coca-Cola is best, but can be hard to find.

8 thoughts on “rand(Gamer Food)”

  1. I, too, have been feeling the passage of time and realize I can’t just grab whatever junk tastes good at the moment and expect to stay healthy. I’ve been lucky to move to an area with a weekly farmer’s market that has all sorts of good fruits and vegetables for a reasonable price.

    Soda (or, where I was born, pop) is my nemesis. I lost about 40 pounds when I swapped to diet soda. I know people say there are some potential health issues with diet soda, too, but I feel so much better now that I did before. My “compromise”, besides drinking diet, is that I use no-calorie flavor packets. Crystal Light has a lot of nice flavors. They, too, contain aspartame. But, I’m drinking the water that I probably should be.

    I’m still trying to clean up my act. It’s kind of eye-opening to start paying attention to how many calories you consume. I spend a lot of my time in front of a computer, not surprisingly, so I certainly don’t need a 3000 calorie per day diet. Cutting out a lot of the excess candy has helped, too. Now to eat less fast food….

    As I said, though, I feel a lot better now than I did a few years ago. Much more energy overall. Good luck on your personal goals, Ravious.

  2. That “Ludo sapiens” on the rpg.net article makes me wince in pain.

    Apart from that, couldn’t say I’m eating especially healthy, but I’m not feeling any noticeable patterns of eating, staying up late or being tired.

    And that taco recipe sounds as much weird as it sounds interesting. No tortillas near… damn you.

  3. I don’t believe I have ever carried on playing while hungry rather than stop to eat. Generally I don’t snack, so not snacking at the keyboard is no problem. When I get hungry I stop playing, go downstairs, make a meal, eat it, then come back up and log back in.

    I do drink while playing. Very occasionally I might have a Diet Coke, which is about the only carbonated drink I… erm… drink. Mostly I drink coffee or tea during the day and red wine in the evening. I really enjoy playing while drinking wine.

    I would be wary of starting anything in an MMO that I couldn’t stop doing without a qualm at a moment’s notice. I do occasionally commit myself to things that are likely to last a couple of hours or so, but only at convenient times. If it ever came to a choice between logging out and going on playing when I felt in any way physically uncomfortable, be it hungry, tired or ill, I’d almost always log out. I’d only persist, and then only for a short while, if it was for some event that was not repeatable, a “Live Event” or similar.

  4. Every time I read about American food on the internet, it boggles my mind. No HFCS here, we only have “cane sugar” in food/drinks that has sugar added, “100% juice” juice is pretty much the only option (apart from a few things like cranberry that are impossible to drink at 100%) and all our beef is grass-fed (not this thread but another that I saw).

    I’d like to add that more exercise improves your reactions in game, though exercising directly before gaming I find to do the exact opposite.

    1. Well we have all that… but, for instance juice. For 100% juice where I live it’s about $3.50. If you want 10% juice, then the price halves.

      Same goes for most other things. So we have the good stuff, but we also have cheap, horrible options, which unfortunately has been the norm for too long.

  5. > “Plus it gives me an excuse to do man things with dead animals and fire every week.”

    Nice post Ravius.

    But I’m sorry, only a good steak (or similar) counts as “man things with dead animals and fire”, chicken breasts are for girls :D

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