Friday, July 13, 2007

Wii Wants You to Get Fit

Unlike other gaming consoles, Nintendo's Wii encourages intense, physical movement, by requiring the player to simulate a real action in order for it to occur on-screen. For example, in bowling, one needs to swing his arm forward with the neat remote in his hand (and securely strapped to the wrist) to bowl the ball: just as he would in real life. In baseball, swing it like a bat to hit the “virtual” ball being pitched to you.

Now, the firm is taking the fitness aspect to the next level. At E3 (currently taking place in California), Nintendo announced plans to launch a new game called Wii Fit in 2008. A player’s body mass index (BMI) is measured by standing on a new Wii accessory called a Balance Board, which resembles a scale. (Something tells me this game will be played alone at home, and not in the company of friends!) Once measured, players can engage in a series of balance- and fitness-based manoeuvres, like head-butting a soccer ball, contorting into yoga moves, or twirling a virtual hula hoop. The player’s progress is continually tracked so he can reach goals, and even compete with friends should he be brave enough to disclose the dreaded BMI!

Sure, getting outside and actually engaging in such activities is the ideal solution to get fit. But for some people, this legitimately isn’t possible due to a number of factors: time, money, transportation, young children, inclement weather…the list goes on. The way I see it, if a person can’t be motivated to actually play sports, isn’t it better he play a “virtual” version than none at all?

I see some of the latest Wii games as modern-day fitness videos: move over Jane Fonda, we’ve got a new player in town!

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