Virtual reality: Avatar inspires gamer to hit the gym

Story highlights

  • Marcus Dickinson has lost 45 pounds and toned up to be more like his character
  • Roc Wieler is a retired colonel from the Minmatar tribes with an affinity for discipline
  • Dickinson blogs as Roc, in addition to creating 3-D artwork and music albums
The world of "EVE Online" is brutal. There are enemies and alliances, death and destruction. Gamers fight for territory, profit and fame in a never-ending quest to top their opponent.
It's a bit like the real world that way.
When Marcus Dickinson first created his "EVE" character, Roc Wieler, the two had little in common. Roc was a retired colonel from the Minmatar tribes -- a stoic, physically imposing disciplinarian. Dickinson was a 230-pound Canadian with an affinity for bacon.
Over time, the line between fiction and reality has blurred.
"I'm a role player inherently," Dickinson says. "I take it seriously."
For Dickinson, Roc Wieler is a brand. The 40-year-old advertising director has a blog called Roc's Ramblings that he writes for daily -- as Roc. He also creates music albums and 3-D artwork. He even sells Roc-related paraphernalia to his fans through the blog and social media sites.
Brand loyalty is one of the reasons Dickinson first decided to shape up. During his trip to the 2009 "EVE Online" FanFest, real life hit him smack in the face.
Walking into the convention, he didn't feel like Roc. He felt like a stereotypical geek, surrounded by other stereotypical geeks.
"We were all just a bunch of pathetic losers," Dickinson remembers. "We paid good money to fly all the way to Iceland and instead of enjoying Iceland, most of us spent all our time sitting around playing the video game we already played back home."