Orgrim Doomhammer actor Robert Kazinsky was on Conan O'Brien earlier this week, where he told the story of how World of Warcraft made him fat, lazy and happier than he's ever been.
Following a three-year stint playing a tough guy character on Britain's long-running soap EastEnders, the charming Kazinsky found himself in a bad place. His television character was a bit of a baby-kidnapping arsehole, so British fans treated him as such, hurling insults, stones or simply walking up to him in a bar after a few drinks and punching him. EastEnders is serious business.
Constantly picked on and afraid to show his face in public, Kazinsky did what seems like a perfectly reasonable reaction to overwhelming stress to me. He holed up and started playing World of Warcraft.
Kazinsky discovered a place where he could roam free without people reacting to him as that EastEnders prick. He made friends based on who he was rather than who he portrayed. Positive reinforcement and friendly players slowly gave him the self confidence to get back out there and be incredibly handsome once more.
"I was able to forge new relationships that didn't come with any preconceptions and I was slowly given these rewards in game that, believe it or not, affected my confidence, gave me the boost and before you know it I was able to have a little bit of self-belief again," Kazinsky told Conan. "I credit World of Warcraft with saving my life."
Eventually, at least.
Like any MMO player who finds the reward and relationships in-game to better than those in the real world, Kazinsky retreated into the game for a good two years. He played 18 hours a day, packed on 23kg, put out cigarettes in the soft drink cans stacked around his computer and possibly peed in cups.
I say possibly because I've been there (albeit with a different game) and cup-peeing was always a consideration, especially back in the endless camping days of EverQuest. Not can-peeing, as Conan suggests in the interview. That requires precision and coordination that cannot be achieved while one hand is on the mouse.
Robert Kazinsky is in a great place today. He's got a lovely girlfriend (or did at the time of this interview). He's one of the leads in the Warcraft movie. He plays an octogenarian rejuvenated via science in the Fox TV series Second Chance, which I was watching before I went to sleep last night. He's got a great life, but he looks back on those endless days of World of Warcraft fondly.
"I've never been happier than when I was really fat and no one had any expectations of me and I was playing video games."
I'm only nodding along a little bit. Check out the interview below.