Are you serious?: “Exergaming” for serious workout

One of the current fads when it comes to Wii games is what some call “Exergaming”, or to formulate it more accurately, video games that use the physical motion recognition available through the Wii platform as an exercise system. Like many fads on Nintendo platforms that spawn many bad games and few good ones (remember Nintendogs and Dogz, the Imagine series or the abundance of brain trainers, just to name a few), it was born by Nintendo creating some of the few good games, and is once again an abuse of the booming casual market drawn into video games by Nintendo DS and Wii. People begin using Wii Sports for workout, a bundle of a Wii console (which includes Wii Sports, as we all know) and Wii Fit is marketed as a personal trainer and various third parties use the opportunity this market behavior provides to spill some of their mediocre games into the casual market, hoping that people who do not spend much of their time with video games will not spend any time researching about which games to buy either. “Exergaming” becomes a huge fad, those games are cluttering the shelves and the uninformed customer does not know which game to buy.

Let us face it right now, workout sucks. A game can hardly be both workout and fun. Yes, one can incorporate workout aspects in a fun game, or fun aspects in virtual workout, but the more fun it gets, the less useful it is for exercise. The difficulty is finding balance without sending both to near-zero. This is why third party games on the new Nintendo systems fail, or at least suck, so often, especially when targeted at the expanded audience. Just because the new market does not think about video games as much as the classic markte, it does not mean they do not need quality games. In fact, games that are not the quality needed to justify such a major purchase for someone who does not consider video games a major interest are likely to turn off customers. Making a simple game does not mean you can be cheap on development, and this is why Miyamoto himself oversaw the development of Nintendogs, Wii Sports, Wii Fit and Wii Music.

As I have said, making a game both fun and useful for workout is a hard challenge. Video games are traditionally a fun business, so this factor is very important. After all, instead of buying an exercise video game that is not fun at all, one could just do that very same exercise without the game. A $15 fitness book should be more affordable than a $90 Wii Fit package, and if one does not already have a Wii console, one could even buy some training equipment as well. This is why an “Exergame” is still a game. A physical one, but a game. Physical workout must always be seen as a side effect. A game that puts you in motion might be better for shape than a game that just has you sit around, but does not replace actual workout.

As you might get from the name I have chosen for myself, I am obese. And I am OK with it. Still I am interested in Wii as a platform, and even the game Wii Fit. My interest is more in other future balance board enabled games actually, but Wii Fit itself seems interesting. Because it is not a personal trainer, but a game.

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