This is perhaps the truly elusive aspect of development in gaming. Being able to create a game that actually promotes fitness is one thing, but being able to create a title that actually makes you fitter is a whole different ball game.
However, some platforms and games do a pretty good job of helping you to lose excess weight, for example.
Gaming and exercise titles
We’ll look at perhaps the most well-known example first, then work our way through any honourable mentions.
The Wii fit was obviously marketed as a video game fitness phenomenon. You used it with your Wii and a special movement board. Doing this allowed you to actually carry out physical exercises in your own home.
The results were good too. You had a balance board that actually measured your weight and detected your centre of balance. Then you had a ton of activities that were designed to replace the gym.
Aerobics and yoga were also available as part of the exercises. People found that it did provide results. Exercising regularly would improve your posture and also help you make moves towards your own personal fitness goals.
The reason why the Wii Fit is worth mentioning first is that it was on a platform that families liked. The Nintendo Wii has always been fun and friendly, and bringing out an effective fitness title and hardware or the much loved Wii was a stroke of genius.
It was a genuinely sincere attempt to bring fitness to the gaming industry, and as such it worked well.
So what about other gaming and exercise combos?
This title was available on the XBox 360. It proved to be a hit due to its sheer depth of activity choices. In addition to that, it also had the option of users being able to see themselves on their screen. This allowed you to check your various body positions. Sounds like a small aspect, but it made a huge difference.
Another big part of this title was the opportunity to create personalised exercise routines, so that you could get a schedule together that brought more value to your overall fitness. This gave the title plenty of value, and also ensured that you could actually see real, measurable results.
The Biggest Loser Challenge
This is one of the titles on the Wii Fit Platform, using the balance board to help with your exercise goals.
Again, there was a heavy emphasis on using the software to input your own variables around height and weight etc. This brought about the tailored feel, and made the software nicely personal.
If anything, it’s a good example of how the Wii Fit phenomenon created a legacy of high quality fitness plans that were perfectly tuned in to what users wanted.
The dancing thing
Dance games had a huge impact, especially in arcades. However, they probably haven’t been given enough credit for their health benefits. If you’re talking details, you’re looking at around 160 calories in 30 minutes of a dance game. That’s pretty good, and is up there with running for cardio benefits.
Dance in general is well recognised as a high quality workout. It’s always been celebrated as a good way to lose a few inches. Going back to the Wii, Just Dance was another popular title on this platform.
With Guitar Hero, fun was definitely thrown into the mix. This title and it’s various spin-offs allows you to play along with your favourite rock songs and it can get pretty intense.
The end result is a pretty respectable amount of calorie loss. Similar to the Just Dance thing, a good session on Guitar Hero can help you burn around 150 calories.
So can they help?
It’s pretty clear that gaming and exercise can go hand in hand. When a game hits that sweet spot between game and physical exercise, the results can be impressive. Come to think if it, it wasn’t so long ago that Nintendo was actively marketing the Wii as a fitness platform. Remember that the vast majority of games for the Wii were family-friendly. The fitness thing just meant fun for the family, while also helping people meet their fitness goals.
The true frontrunners now are items such as the XBox Kinect, which matches action on screen to your body movements. Also, and this will happen sooner than you think, virtual reality has become an extremely powerful example of a tool that will open physical fitness.