Play Video Games to Get Fit
For quite some time now, video games have taken the heat for leading kids into a life of passive, sedentary entertainment and helping to cause the obesity problem our nation faces. Perhaps they should take some of the heat, but a new generation of videogame amusements is getting kids up out of the chair – literally!
Linda Dupie of Fredericksburg, Va., says that DDR (Dance, Dance Revolution – for those not in the know) is a huge hit at her house. "My daughters, who are 14 and 10, aren't serious gamers, but they are serious about their Dance, Dance Revolution game..." she says. "They love challenging each other, and I love that the game requires them to move. While my kids are active in sports, I love the trend toward more physical movement in video games. I'm for anything that keeps my kids moving."
A Surprising Trend
Beth Llewelyn is the senior director of PR with Nintendo of America. Her company was completely surprised that people were using the Wii for physical activity. "We knew people would really get into playing, because the Wii remote mimics the motions of a wide variety of sports and other actions, but we were definitely surprised when we learned that people were using it as a workout or for weight loss," she says.
Unlike most other gaming units, Wii has motion-sensitive controllers. So instead of pushing a button to swing a tennis racket, the player actually moves the controller. This control scheme has unlimited potential – from pitching a baseball to swinging a golf club to tossing a football. As a result, players actually have to get up off the couch to get into the game.
Move, Move, Move
Nintendo's Wii isn't the only game to capitalize on this new trend of physically active video gaming. XaviX has created a line of interactive sport applications that allow kids to enjoy the real-life action of their favorite sports by using controllers shaped like actual sporting equipment. Kids can play baseball, golf or a round of bowling without even leaving the house. Other companies such as Digital Praise have added a new twist to dance arcade games by using Christian music. The company even includes a Veggie Tales version for the younger set.
Peter Fokos, creative director for Digital Praise, believes that the new trend toward interactive games is something the customers are demanding. "Nintendo seems to have picked up on that with the Wii," he says. "As businesses, they should be asking their customers what they want. If they hear that people want more active games, then they would be smart to listen and respond."
The Advantages of Interactive Video Games
Fokos says there are many advantages to video games that require activity. "Kids and adults need to be active to stay healthy," he says. "Parents can see that their kids are more susceptible to gaining weight these days, so anything that would get them excited about getting some exercise is a good thing."
One thing companies and families are discovering is interactive games seem to lend themselves easily to quality family time. Karen Gibson of Danville, Ala., says that their gaming system, Nintendo Wii, has become a family activity. "The idea of an interactive video game appealed to us as something we could play with true interest with our children," she says. "I like the fact that the game requires us to move, something that is good for both our teens and ourselves! I hope the trend continues, and that more games are developed that appeal to parents, so that we can continue to play together."
No one, including the video game companies, really expected people to use their gaming systems for physical fitness, but in this day and age, we should take our exercise wherever we can get it!