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Experienced Points: Fitness Gaming

By Shamus
on Friday Jul 3, 2009
Filed under:


A little over two years ago I talked about how gaming and exercise could be combined. At the time I was thinking you would need a big piece of exercise equipment to plug into your console. I still think it would be a good idea, and I’d personally still buy it, but now that I’ve tried WiiFit I see that combining the motion-driven action gameplay with the WiiFit board would be even more elegant. This week’s column at the Escapist is about that idea, and why I think it’s a winner.

Comments (16)

  1. Lupis42 says:

    I’ve been waiting for someone to just make the game already for those two years. If they can make Rock Band, why has nobody done anything with this?

  2. RibbitRibbit says:

    Thumbs up!

    A couple of weeks back I thought of the very same thing for MMOs. Like, if you’re playing WOW, pedal a bit to gain more attack speed or power regen or whatever. But then people will blab of “unfair advantage” and others will remotely hook up the pedals’ inputs to some human hamster farm in China. At any rate, no money in it for me since it’s apparently not patentable (and also it depends on the MMO companies’ goodwill to implement the additions to the protocol and such).

    A shame, really, because many game-couch-potatoes can really benefit from this. If someone in the game industry is reading this – go out and do it, guys, it will sell like hotcakes and will actually improve people’s lives.

  3. Submarine Bells says:

    I’ve never tried the WiiFit thing, but for exercise with a Wii, I personally recommend Dance Dance Revolution. At the lowest level it provides a very gentle workout which can last for as long as you like, and as the difficulty goes up, so does the amount of energy you have to put in. I’m (a) very unfit, and (b) emphatically NOT a DDR champion, and I find that by playing it on difficulty levels that challenge me but are possible for me for individual songs (usually the second or third levels) I can get a really good workout that I can do for an hour or 90 minutes and really feel like I’ve worked out throughly afterwards.

  4. Veloxyll says:

    You mis-spelt Reigeme. or Regiment. End of the second paragraph anyhow (back to reading the article)

  5. Steve C says:

    I had a friend who was a big guy. He wasn’t quite the size of “The comic book guy” from Simpsons, but he was close. I lost touch with him for a couple of years.

    A mutual friend I was with at a movie said, “Hey there’s Vini!” I thought it was some sort of trick and argued it wasn’t Vini for 2 mins while he was 5ft away until I realized the truth. He had lost so much weight I did not recognize him while in a conversation with him. This weight loss was due to video games!

    What had happened is my friend had discovered “Dance Dance Revolution”. His workplace decided to reimburse their programmers for exercise equipment. He was able to argue that a Playstation 2 + DDR somehow counted and got them to pay for it. Later they canceled the program (maybe because of not wanting to pay for gaming consoles?) It was ashame because he lost -a lot- of weight all due to “Dance Dance Revolution.” It worked for him because he liked DDR.

    Since then he’s gained some of the weight back because he’s mastered every DDR song in every DDR game (even the Japanese ones) and is finished with the games. Shamus is right, there needs to be a new fun game that makes it enjoyable to burn calories.

  6. BarGamer says:

    The video’s been taken off Youtube, but at one time, the makers of the Mana Potion energy drink hooked up their exercise bikes to their keyboard and mouse, and “biked” across Azeroth. The articles about it are still floating around, though.

  7. Cat Skyfire says:

    A long time ago, a health club I belonged to had a bike with a biking game attached to it. You watched a screen and could steer. The speed was based on what you did with your legs. I would spend more time on it because of the rewards of traveling the world. If I made the effort of going up the mountain (which was hard), then I was rewarded by biking down a ski jump (and the speed activated a fan). I could miss aim and end up biking underwater. It was fun.

    What if some of these games that also require a tedious amount of movement also used something like wii fit board? How many role playing games, solo or with others, require walking/running a long distance overall. What if you could set the board and say that stepping on the board = running, and not stepping means your character just walks. There’s an incentive to be on the board (speed) but it doesn’t kill you if you don’t.

  8. I think the ideal solution here is a stationary cycle. You already control most games with just your arms. Put a keyboard and mouse in front of a stationary cycle, and let the games adjust resistance and reward performance.

  9. WWWebb says:

    If my skis fit on the board it might work. As it is, I’m going to have to wait for project Natal. Between “Kung Fu Hustle”, “Dance Dance Revolution 3D”, and whatever other crazy games they come up with it’s got huge potential as a gaming/exercise platform.

    How about Area 51 where you actually DO have to run and duck? How about platforming where you actually have to jump? Madden where you actually dodge tackles and throw?

    Even if you insist on exercise involving weights and sweat, you could have a real interactive trainer without having to drive to the gym. Imagine reaching for your weights as Mr. T yells, “Not those weights FOOL! You mastered that yesterday. Today you’re gonna take it up a notch. Now spread those feet and squat! One! Two! Three! Don’t slow down already! Five! Six! Keep that back straight…”

  10. Božo says:

    @BarGamer: Wow. When you think about it, it’s really simple. You buy some kind of input device that’s compatible and voila. Biking across Azeroth. Awesome.
    Now, if only the developers caught onto the idea.

  11. Phil says:

    I also think that your exercycle idea is probably better because you can sit down.

  12. Ross Bearman says:

    I recently obtained an iPod Touch and have fallen in love with the fairly simple application CrunchFu.

    Placing it on your chest while doing crunches, it keeps count for you and lets you know whether you need to push up more or do it slower and grades you after each set. It provides a full regime to go from sets of 4 and 6, to sets of 200 non stop.

    This is all fine and dandy, but I’d probably have got bored of it by now, had it not been connected to my Twitter account and had people not been able to challenge me to a crunch battle. The competitive nature of the application really makes it work and I’m extremely happy with the results.

  13. Don J says:

    I’m glad to see this idea raised again. Ever since I read your original TwentySided post on the subject, I have longed for something like this.

    I hope that sooner or later, somebody will take notice and follow your advice. I have DDR for the PS2 (though the mat stopped working a few months ago), and plan to buy Wii Fit some time soon, but I would so much prefer your exercise-driven games concept.

    My best workouts right now come from playing Mario Kart Wii while riding a recumbent exercise bike. No direct link between the exercise and the game means I will stop too early on tired days (and sometimes keep playing the game while sitting motionless on the bike). On the other hand, coming to the end of a very close race will often get my adrenaline going, and I have noticed that I will start pedaling much faster. My brain clearly makes a connection between fast pedaling and victory, even when the link is clearly imaginary. I can hardly imagine how much more effective my workouts would be if there was a REAL link there.

  14. Mari says:

    Couple of points:
    1) I would so totally buy it if somebody made a nice RPG with exercise built in. Because, yes, I hate to exercise. I hate to sweat, too.

    2) Guilt can be a perfectly good motivator IF you’re the sort of person who is susceptible to it. I happen to be very responsive to guilt but only when the guilt is activated by a third-party. In other words, spending the money on the gym isn’t guilt-inducing for me unless the hubs or a friend or even one of the kids says, “Are you going to the gym today? You did pay for the membership after all…” That’s all it takes to get my behind in the car and on the way to the gym for a workout. Seriously, I’ve done my walking with a broken toe (a little slower, but I got out there and did it) because the kids said, “But we go walking every day! You PROMISED!”

  15. Don J says:

    I just saw an advertisement for the Fisher-Price Smart Cycle. Looks like the kind of thing we’ve been wanting — but for 3-6 year old kids. Still, it’s a start. I’d be interested in reading your thoughts on the subject, Shamus, if it’s interesting enough for you to write about.

  16. Judy says:

    I patented a new kind of computer mouse that can play hundreds of computer games. You simply stand on the FootPOWR and move your feet to move the mouse (or arrow keys) so it is like a cursor, but fully immersed to the game play. Not just running, but any game. Take a look Footgaming

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