Fitness: Gaming and Exercising

Levi Castle

Over the past few years, video games have brought into the living room something that they used lack completely: fitness. Games that require more than just sitting on the couch are becoming incredibly popular, and the selection available today has nearly something for everybody.

First up are the games that ushered in this new genre of fitness + gaming. Arguably the most popular physical gaming experience for many years, these games (like Dance Dance Revolution) are known for their iconic floor mats that plug into the console, allowing what was once an arcade-only activity into the family living room. Before long, many more versions of the game came along, and it even became so popular that gym classes started hosting them as an actual activity.

Another popular form of video gaming fitness was introduced when Nintendo’s Wii delivered what was inevitable: motion-controlled workouts. Introducing the Wii Fit in 2008, Nintendo raised the bar as to what fitness games were capable of. With detailed stat tracking and numerous activities provided by the Wii Fit balance board, it gave customers a reason to come back and have some fun while working out again and again.

The Nintendo Wii is the best-selling motion-control gaming device to date, even if including Microsoft’s Kinect and SONY’s Move. Nintendo ushered in a new era of gaming with their motion-controlled devices, and the aforementioned Kinect and Move were its competitors’ answers. With the success of motion gaming, Nintendo didn’t have the only ideas for how people could have fun moving.

Microsoft’s Kinect for the Xbox 360 offers controller-free motion gaming. The sensor tracks full-body movement, allowing games like Nike+ Kinect Training to accurately and wholly detail exactly what a user might be doing right or wrong, as well as their consistency. Dance Central, one of the most popular movement franchises of today, has the player mimicking on-screen avatar movement to the beat of today’s most popular songs.

SONY’s PlayStation 3 Move peripheral features a tracking sensor camera much like the Kinect’s, but also has the player holding a number of different peripherals. These could be glowing remotes or an actual plastic gun housing that turns said controller into a virtual rifle. Different games require different peripherals, and the majority of the fitness games offered by the system have the users holding the remotes. For example, the Just Dance series is much like the Dance Central one: players move with what they see on screen while burning calories.

Dance and stat-tracking workout games aren’t the only physical fitness options available today. Also popular are titles like Rock Band, which requires players to take on the roles of individual band members. Depending on the song, the band can have a serious workout playing just a simulation game, all while having fun. Skateboarding, platforming and other types of games are also offering niche experiences for niche audiences.

As the video game market grows, there are so many entertaining options for those who want to get up and move around while they look at their TV.