Remember when you got your first Nintendo Entertainment System? How geeked you were to be able to play Super Mario Bros. and try and shoot that snickering dog while playing Duck Hunt? Well, now as we've embarked into the 21st Century, video games are still a part of the regular diet of many young and older people alike. With an influx of information being the new wave, what can be done to spread the word about being healthy when it comes to gaming?
Enter Antwand Pearman and GamerFitNation. Working diligently to make his own dreams a reality, the man known online as "BlackBible" created the healthy gaming site to support gamers with their physical health and gaming addiction. With the talents of Gregory Laporte, Adonis Harris, Brittany Figaro, and a cavalcade of characters—GamerFitNation has worked hard to crack through the Internet clutter.
The video game industry is a billion dollar industry, but there are only a few notable Black faces amongst the crowd. The creator and EIC of GamerFitNation can become an exciting name to sit alongside talent like Evan Narcisse and N'Gai Croal. In this exclusive interview, Antwand Pearman talks about what it means to be a "True Gamer" and "GamerFit," what it's like to be a Black blogging gamer, and if he could give Michelle Obama a run for her money.
EBONY: What inspired you to merge your love of being healthy with the world of gaming—which is not always popular and often criticized?
Antwand Pearman: Basically, I saw a trend that wasn't really being nurtured. A lot of true gamers go to the gym, but had nowhere to talk about their love with other gamers. I knew a lot about healthy alternatives and wanted to create a place where gamers could come and talk about these issues without being judged. Plus, I realized that video game addictions wasn't being talked about on a serious scale. There was a story on CNN about parents who were so addicted to video games that they let their children starve to death. I was incensed and felt I needed to do something to bring the issues to light.
General health and addiction are major issues that aren't being addressed in the gaming industry. The other issues is trying to get gamers to see how important they are to others in life. To explain it better think about this: You wanted to be a video game developer all your life. You finally get your in into the industry. Now, that you're in, when someone asks you, "What do you do for a living?" in that moment you find yourself talking as if it were like you worked at a McDonald's flipping burgers. So, I created something called "True Gamer," to show both gamers and people who are non-gamers just how important they really are.
EBONY: The video game world is a billion dollar industry, but there aren't too many notable Black faces besides a few noteworthy scribes in the mainstream. What is it like to be a Black blogger/writer and what are some obstacles you've faced in being recognized for your talent?
AP: Good question. Truth be told, when I stepped into this I wasn't thinking about skin color, at all. I just wanted to help people. The biggest issue for me at first was self doubt. I was afraid that I wouldn't be able to make this work, but I found a way to push through. After awhile I started to notice that I was among many people of color to be in this industry.
In gaming, most of the issues involving the color of my skin mostly come from playing games online. Though I feel like in some small cases people hate on me because of the color of my skin, but I fight my way through it. I'm a proud Black man and a proud gamer! I bust my butt to get to where I'm at now. Even though racism does exist, I promised myself that I won't let it stop me. I know that I and my team at GamerFitNation will break any barriers that block our way.
EBONY: The Digital Age 3.0 has brought us advances in mobile gaming, the PlayStation Move and Xbox Kinect, just to name a few. But in your opinion, what is the best gaming accessory to have in order to stay trim and fit?
AP: Simple answer—both! Both the PlayStation Move and Xbox Kinect have created something that works very well. When it comes to the PS Move imitating such gestures like swinging a baseball, sword fighting, or shooting arrows—the fluidity makes you feel like you're really doing the sport or action. This realistic mindset that the PlayStation Move represents is great because you don't realize that you're playing a game, but it is helping you so much when it comes to fitness. You don't realize that you're actively burning calories.
When it comes to dancing and actual fitness games, the Kinect is impressive. I'd say this: If I want to play tennis, I'll play it on the Move; if I want to dance then I'll do it on the Kinect; and if i want to box—I'll do it on both. At the end of the day, I say it depends on one's own gaming preference, but even if you go with the Nintendo Wii, you'll have something motion-controlled that will help you stay fit and trim.
EBONY: With summer coming up soon, what are a few titles that folks should have in their collection now to get an early start on that beach-ready body?
AP: Just Dance 3 for the [Nintendo] Wii; UFC Personal Trainer for both the Kinect and PS Move; Your Shape Fitness Evolve 2012 for the Kinect; Zuumba Fitness Rush; and Dead or Alive 5. Why that last game?! I think that seeing a little action makes you want to seek action! All these games are different, but provide a brand of fun and healthy adventure that you cannot find anywhere else.
EBONY: What's next for you?
AP: We're in the process of putting together a few events and projects this summer. I feel that they will showcase the true essence of gaming and healthy living. For now, these projects are on the hush-hush, but when it gets closer to the date I promise that you guys will know about it.
EBONY.com: Last question. We all saw First Lady Michelle Obama taking down Jimmy Fallon in an athletic competition not too long ago. if she turned her sights to you then how would you fare?
AP: (laughs) I'm sorry, but the First Lady is one tough woman, and right now she'd kick my butt! Don't get me wrong—I'll give her a run for her money—but after I saw what she did to Ellen (DeGeneres) on her show I was like, "Oh boy, back to the gym for me!" Personally, I'd like to see her add gaming to her health initiative she has with Jill Biden. There are a lot of games out there that kids could play that will make them get up and get moving. We have a kids section on our website called GFN Junior where we talk about kids health and how gaming benefits and develops their minds and bodies.
Thanks to the help of companies like Nintendo and Microsoft supporting us, we've created a program called GFN Playground. It's hosted in a church down in Louisiana, and the local children can visit the recreation center and play the Wii together. I respect my First Lady and the work both her and Jill Biden have done in the name of the kids. I'd recommend that her husband gets her Just Dance Kids—I feel that everyone would love it.