Once upon a time, when you booted up a video game, you were either Mario or Luigi or Link or Mega Man. Nowadays, however, you can alter how your characters look. And they, in turn, can alter how you look.
According to a new study from the University of Missouri, having a lean or muscular avatar encourages players to stay in shape when they're away from a computer. Out of nearly 280 "Second Life" users (yeah, that still exists), those with the hardest digital bodies were most likely to hit the gym and put away the Cheesy Poofs.
"[T]hrough this interplay of one's online and offline identities, the virtual may become meaningful to the physical body and self," says researcher Dr. Elizabeth Behm-Morawitz. "That alter-ego can then have a positive influence on a person's life. For example, people seeking to lose weight could create fitter avatars to help visualize themselves as slimmer and healthier."
So, giving a crap about your video game appearance makes you care about your appearance in the game of life. Just remember: no matter how attractive your avatar might be, sex in the real world is the only kind that counts.