Think "computer games" and the image of the typical "couch potato" shooting at virtual enemies pops up in your mind's eye. But US researchers claim that this typecasting is absolutely "baseless". According to them gaming addicts are often in much better shape than the average American.
Computer gaming has been scrutinized for its adverse effects on lifestyle and health of gamers. Some people have also suggested that "excessive" gaming could fuel rising obesity and increase social and emotional problems.
In a new study, over 7, 000 players of the online game "EverQuest II" were quizzed about their health by scientists.
EverQuest II is an online fantasy role-playing game that offers players a virtual weapon as a reward for returning the questionnaire.
Gamers' body mass index (BMI) was apparently found to be lower than the US average, as many used to take "proper" exercise more than once a week.
However, depression was found to be more common in gamers, according to New Scientist, but the exact reason behind such a trend is still unknown.
Findings suggested that adult gamers had body mass index of just over 25, which is just on the verge of touching the "overweight" mark, while the US average is 28.
The average gamer also said that they engaged in vigorous physical exercise once or twice a week.
According to Professor Mark Griffiths, the director of the International Gaming Research Unit at Nottingham Trent University, the findings tended to bear out previous research in the field.
He claimed that demanding details of physical health from people did not always elicit truthful responses. But there was no evidence that anyone, barring a small minority, were being harmed by their relationship to gaming.
"A lot of people talk about 'excessive gaming' as if it is always bad to take part in gaming, but the context can make a big difference," BBC quoted him, as saying.
He added: "I can think of two case studies of people who both spend 12 hours a day playing EverQuest, but while one is clearly obsessional, the other one is perfectly normal. Genuine addicts are few and far between."
The study was published in the Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication.