You, too, can look like a video game character. Maybe not the Adonis-alike that many come across as, but something more delightful. If you’re fed up with the same tired old guides that boil down to the same tired old conclusions like “get more exercise” or “just eat well”, why not try mimicking a body some artist designed to be interesting? Why not shirk the bonds of what society has deemed excellent and chase an image that tickles a different fancy?

It’s in you—that spark of motivation. Whether you should seize it is debatable, but those curious about the demands one might face in turning yourself into a video game character can get started with these easy steps.

This flagship non-personality can be seen sprinting through toxic aqueducts, leaping across infested sands, and lugging futuristic equipment around for days on end in the Half-Life games. Casual glances may deem his hazard suit unimpressive, but a critical eye will recognize how gosh-darned impressive Freeman’s feats are. In the face of exertion that would drive lesser men to exhausted ruin, he sports consistently whip-quick head swivels and finesse with arms. And he appears to not need sleep.

Chasing Freeman will require more than elevated heart rates. To develop precision in fine phalangeal articulation and decision-making under duress, these skills must be taxed. As it happens, there are few finer outlets for them than modern competitive video games. Play your demanding games of Dota 2 and Unreal Tournament. Leading experts recommend a minimum of 30 minutes of dominance assertion per day for the layman and up to two hours for those hoping to trounce extradimensional weirdos like Gordon.

Cardio will become half your life. Work a combination of aerobic endurance training and high intensity anaerobics. You have to be ready for the long haul: to trot the miles when it counts, you’ve got to devour those miles while they’re not swarming with mutants. For intense bouts of movement such as warding off turncoat scientists, hill sprints or burpees will be your poison.

’Don’t Starve’
Cultivating that essential combination of derangement and emaciation is a long and tangled road. Luckily they foster each other. Spend enough time casting sideways glances at shadows and convincing yourself that your dinner bares inky fangs, and thoughts of nutrition will fall to the wayside. And starved minds don’t spare energy for superfluous things like sanity.

Unplug your fridge. If you didn’t build it you’re not using it. Achieving the ideal malnourished look will be easier if your meals carry a funk, anyway.

Wilson’s defining characteristic is his eyes. They’re not just the saggy bags of sleep deprivation. They carry with them the craze of nightmares that should disappear with morning’s light but inexplicably do not and the fear that visions may spring from your head and steal fingerfuls of fire. Unfortunately, replicating the conditions that bred his mental state is infeasible, so you’ll need to settle for intense imagination. Regularly meditate on monsters being real on top of a broken two hours of sleep.

’Team Fortress 2’
Hungry? You’ll come to miss that feeling. The Heavy has a reputation for stuffing his face, but his storied appetite is a thing of necessity when it comes to building the sheer mass and power of a man who suplexes Siberian bears. He’s the top half of Mariusz Pudzianowski swathed in a couple dozen pounds of insulation and crammed on top of an ordinary man’s legs.

Here’s what you do. Find one doting grandmother (Russian nationality optional) and tell her you’re hungry. Accept everything, and train like you eat. Grab something huge and don’t set it down until everything’s been chewed through. Dive into activities like flipping over objects of progressively greater size, ferrying shoulderfuls of sandbags around your lawn, and offering rickshaw services without the wheels. Find a heavy thing to move to a different spot and do so frequently.

Be careful to lift entirely with your back to avoid placing undue strain on your quadriceps and gluteus: ferrying that torso around will be exercise enough for them.

’Deus Ex: Human Revolution’
Jensen’s routine likely lurks in his cave, well removed from the sauna and smoothie bar. It’s home training for the asocial shut-in. Splurge on free weights or settle with just a pull up bar, backpack, and creative leveraging to garner similar results.

With the difficult part out of the way, we turn to the matter of mangling your new body beyond natural healing. A back alley chop shop is far too voluntary. Jensen’s persona requires that particular edge of weary bereavement only accidental damage can bestow. Consequently, surrendering your arms and organs is best undergone while unconsciously suffering the windfall of risk-seeking behavior.

Go skydiving. Get wrapped up with the wrong crowd. Show the true depth of your commitment by playing with farming combines or handicapping yourself for a Pamplona bull run. Give yourself a chance. And then hope that a secret mega-corporation takes up your cause and replaces all your mangled innards and outards with high-tech prosthetics.

’Super Mario Bros.’
Salted water is the most-often overlooked detail of delicious pasta. Enough to taste, but not enough to turn the noodles brackish. Simmer it in until the pasta has approached but not yet reached ideal tenderness. For most, this means the moment after it no longer leaves residue on a tester’s tooth.

Fresh herbs next—the undervalued key to an exquisite sauce. A coarse mince of bulbs browned in butter is unequivocally more decadent than garlic salt. Parsley still crisp in its vibrancy is a far greater complement to earthy fungus than powder from a bottle. It sounds like a simple caveat, but shakers of dried can be awful tempting. How much worse could they be? Much worse.

Invite your brother over. Toss the butter mushroom sauce and pasta; serve plumping portions to the two of you. Eat. Sink into a post-meal bliss. Let the rich, mellow flavor sink you away into dreams of lizard kings and distressed damsels. You’re always the hero here.

Kris Goorhuis is a freelance writer, nerd, and pathologically shy fish in a sea of eyes. Leer at him on Twitter @krisgoorhuis.

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