In early 2015, my coworkers had to rush me to the hospital. Heart palpitations had my heart feeling it would leap from my chest. I was gasping for breath. The nurse in the emergency room was taking my vitals and I was humbled. Embarrassed, I sat in the florescent light of reality feeling like the scale was glaring at me. I was overweight. No…I was 365 pounds. I was obese. Those long hours at my computer, working all day and gaming all night had taken their toll. I smoked a pack of cigarettes a day, living off a diet of soda and pizza. All those years of self-abuse were hitting me like a ton of bricks.

That evening I was speaking with a very old friend of mine and she said to me, “I don’t want you to die”. That statement rang in my ears all evening…

I don’t want you to die. At 44.

The next day, I took a personal day for time to contemplate my life and deal with this reality. Seriously, it’s amazing how long you can lie to yourself while knowing the truth. I spent the day pouring over old notebooks, looking at health food websites, trying to find inspiration to change. It may seem odd but when you are that blind to your situation, and that overweight, it’s not as easy as “just do it”. There are so many mental barriers to get through. There are so many fears to confront, that ultimately you just want to give up and sink back into the solace of your bad habits.

I began thinking about what I could do to inspire myself to change my life. To get past those emotional barriers and take that first step. To just get out the door, ignore the imagined gawking onlookers and laughing trolls and just…start…moving.

The idea for MarchQuest had come to me years ago. Every time I debated on making a new game, MarchQuest kept coming back to me. But every time I pushed it aside for another game concept. “A real game…not this fitness stuff”, I would rationalize to myself. Now, as I flipped through old creative notebooks, there it was. Tucked away in the back pages I saw the idea for the yet un-named “MarchQuest”.

Sketches of the map, notes on user experience, a screen by screen design of what this game could be. Regarding the story, I saw a note that read, “Just like ‘World Stone’”. World Stone was a fantasy world that I had been working on since I was 10 years old. It began with summertime walks in the woods at my grandparents’ house. My grandparents had the most amazing farm, built in a hollow surrounded by woods, with a long path leading out the back door through magical gardens and into a forest of wonders.

As children do, I would head out into those woods pretending to be a knight, a paladin, on a quest of dire importance. Those quests gave me solace. And helped me through trying times. I once joked that I walked into that forest as a chubby little kid and emerged at 25 (the last time I was there) as a thin, fit adult. Now, I was calling for that fantasy world to come alive again and save me.

It was settled, I would build MarchQuest to inspire myself to become that thin, fit adult again. I quickly built a ‘clickable’ prototype and showed it to a couple of friends. Their response blew me away, “I WANT that for myself! How cool!” As I shared the idea with more people, I kept getting the same response. Maybe there was a deeper purpose to this game.

And there was.

In my research, I learned that 2 in 3 adults were overweight or obese. I quickly did the math and realized there were millions of overweight or obese gamers out there. Millions of people, just like myself, that might be struggling with the same issue. In many ways, this fueled my desire to keep pushing. To find any way I could to make this game.

When I started Loreful back in 2012, I could never have imagined that we would be making a fitness RPG. However, now that we have made it, it is one of the most rewarding and inspiring game and story-telling experiences I’ve ever had the privilege to work on. I can only hope that MarchQuest inspires others to take on the mantle of a Marchwarden, step out their door and into the land of Vale. And if you do, I hope it changes your life as it did mine.

Aharon
Marchwarden of Vale