Saturday, May 20, 2006

Are Video Games the Key to Solving Childhood Obesity?

I believe I have seen the future.

Nintendo just released their "Wii" (pronounced 'we') video game console. It contains a wireless remote that is motion sensitive.

What this means is that to swing a bat in a baseball video game, you swing the remote over your shoulder and across in front of you. To clunk a villain on the head, you move the remote in a similar way.

When I think of the possibilities...

What about a video game where you have to do a certain amount of working out (push ups, swinging your arms, stretches) in order to do something fun in the game (go through to a new level, open a door, etc.). We are now able to link the fun of videogames with the need for physical activity. Indeed, it seems that all videogames will now have an aspect of fitness to them, making them more fun than before.

I've never been a gamer myself, I get bored of them very easily. But knowing that young children today often play games more than they watch TV or surf the Internet, this could be the opportunity we're looking for.

I'm not the first person to think of this. Note the comment at the end of this article on Wii.

1 comment:

dr1044 said...

I posted this in another forum.

"Wii Workout

The market is huge for workout videos/dvds because most people like the convenience and privacy of working out at home. This game will give them that plus a personal trainer and more.

Basically aerobics game targeted (mostly) at females. Need four wiimotes. Strap two to your shins and hold the other two. Do common aerobic type workouts with Chuck Norris/Brooke Burke on screen encouraging/screaming at you.

Game is sophisticated enough so that you can enter your height, weight, gender, and goals, and the game will develop your ideal workout routine or you can set your own goals. If you want to burn say five pounds in a week just enter it in the game and it develops a plan. Norris/Burke gives you instant feedback on if you are doing the exercises right ("keep your arms straight", "your right leg is too far forward") or if you need to speed up or if you are doing good. If one limb is not moving right it gives you a little vibration there.

The number of reps you have done and the number that you have left are displayed and spoken to you. You can either use the preloaded game workout music or use your own that you uploaded. You can be rewarded with your favorite song (or maybe a Chuck Norris fact) or punished with some country music. The game stores your workout results in the memory and it computes graphs of all your workouts so that you can see how you are progressing. It also uses your results to come up with your next workout routine.

Also to motivate you even more you could tell it "I want to lose 10 pounds" and while you are working out it shows how many minutes you will have to work out to reach your goal. Going faster or lasting longer makes the number decrease.

Variations of the game can include yoga, pilates, dancing, martial arts, boxing, kickboxing, weightlifting, and I'm sure a whole bunch of other things."

You could also create a virtual self (like the Nintendo guy put his face on the wiisports). You could go online and compete with other people who match up with your current skill level. It could also big like a biggest loser thing where it's a competition to see who works out the best and loses the most weight.