Monday, May 17, 2010

How to get a nerd to exercise

Jaru and I got a Wii last week -- the one video game system Jaru would actually ask for ahead of me!

We also got the Wii Fit+ package which includes the balance board and such.

I've enjoyed it quite a bit since it allows me to exercise in the house in shorts then head straight for a shower.  Driving back from a gym in sweaty clothes always bugged me, plus then I'd need multiple sets of clothes so they'd be clean.

One other benefit (I think) is that when I do the jogging in place for the jogging game I run on my toes since I'm effectively jogging barefoot.  I've read that jogging in shoes causes problems since you tend to hit hard heel-first -- I'm I'm pretty sure that applies to me.  When I tried jogging last I'd develop knee issues after a few months.

What surprises me though is how few exertainment games there are.  Practically no true exercise programs that are game-focused.  I picked up Walk it Out, which allows you to walk around a little virtual island.  There's a slight game aspect in that you click on glowing stars and pellets while walking and build up the island with houses and trees and such.

I'd rate it 4 out of 5 stars since it's the only goddamn exergame out there really.  But if there were any competition I'd give it 2 stars or less.  In order to click on things you need to point the remote -- doing this while walking when you should be swinging your arms to get the full effect. 

One plus of the game is that you need to step fairly high when using the remote in pocket method of walking, and at a good pace, so I work up a solid sweat while playing.

But it's frustrating that there are so many simply obvious ways of making a fun or interesting exergame.

Jogging works remarkably well by putting a remote in pocket.  Jaru had the idea of simply laying down various virtual paths through unusual terrains.  Why not jog through the Amazon, or Paris, or Middle Earth?  That'd make jogging a little fun.

Or how about some incentive -- jogging through the amazon with a leopard chasing you.  Or maybe you're a tiger and chasing hapless guys in pith helmets through the jungle.  There's no reason your icon couldn't be an animal or monster.

Or you play as Pac-Man and gobble pellets while running away from ghosts.

You could dash off hundreds of interesting ideas in a few hours and they'd all be remarkably easy to implement -- yet there isn't a single dedicated jogging game on the Wii.

One thing though, using the Wii is making me really look forward to Natal.

I've played a couple sword games using the Wii and it's amazingly fun to swing the controller and hack something up.  The big downside has been that it doesn't track the movements of the rest of your body.  So being able to full body dodge and such will be very cool if the Natal technology works.

One upshot of all this is that there'll be all these pale, extremely wiry nerds in the future who spend 16 hours a day working out to World of Warcraft.

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