Combine ”exercise” and “gaming” and you get “exergaming” -the term used for video games that serve as a form of exercise. Exergaming depends on technology that tracks bodily movement and response. This genre has been commended for reversing the stereotype of gaming as a sedentary activity, while encouraging a more active lifestyle. Exergames, or fitness games as they are more commonly known, are seen to have evolved from changes in technology that aim to make video games more fun for everyone. Whether young or young at heart, you can join in on the excitement. Here’s a quick look at some classic and modern exergames.
DANCE DANCE REVOLUTION
Perhaps it was Konami’s Dance Dance Revolution in 1998 that paved the first major success of exergaming when it was ported from the arcade to the PlayStation. Selling over three million copies, DDR was such a surprise hit out of Japan.
DDR brings childhood memories of coming over to a friend’s house and dancing to the tunes of Boom Boom Dollar, Butterfly, and Boys, among others. Awkward dance steps were par for the course, but that was part of the entertainment. What’s extremely great about DDRwas that it cancelled the need to go to gaming arcades just to be able to play the game because it can be purchased for playing at home. From then on, living rooms were transformed from seating areas to dance floors that definitely brought the category of fitness games to a greater level.
The EyeToyis a digital camera device much like a webcam that was first released in 2003. It makes use of computer vision and gesture recognition to process images taken by the camera.
What’s so special about the Eye Toy is that it places you at the hub of a unique gaming experience. You can be featured live on the screen within Eye Toy Play & Camera games, which allows you to manipulate and physically interact with the games’ characters and environment. For instance, in Kung Foo, you have to give hordes of ninjas a sharp blow as they attack you from different sides of the screen. Playing with the EyeToyis fine when you’re alone, but with the presence of some of your mates, it can easily be one of the best party games ever invented.
Wii Fit was first released in Japan in 2007, which quickly gathered over a million units in sales. It has the combination of a personalised training software and a specialized “Wii Balance Board” on which you stand during exercise. Along with Nintendo’s appeal, the drawing power ofthe Wii Fit comes from its promise to make exercise extremely enjoyable.
Wii Fit features yoga, strength training, aerobics, and balance games that seek to offer a way to help get families exercising together. Who needs a personal trainer when you have Wii Fit right here? Engaging in physical activities has never been as convenient as doing it with this game. A follow-up to Wii Fit entitled Wii Fit Plus was released back in 2009. This year, Wii Fit U is scheduled for release in December
Kinect Sports is a sports video game for the Xbox 360 made available in 2010. It’s a set of six sports simulations and eight mini-games, comprising Bowling, Boxing, Track & Field, Table Tennis, Beach Volleyball and Football.
You play Kinect Sports by standing in front of the Kinect sensor and mimicking actions performed in real-life sports, such as punching your opponent or kicking a soccer ball. In the game, you are represented by your Xbox 360 avatar. Your physical gestures and bodily movements are monitored by the Kinect sensor and translated into in-game actions without the need for a controller.
At the end of each event, you will see a video compilation of your best performances captured by the KinectShare website where they can be downloaded, deleted, or shared directly with Facebook.
ZUMBA FITNESS CORE
Zumba Fitness Core is specifically designed for women to help them achieve the tight and toned abs they yearn for. The game features fresh music and choreography, new dance styles and fitness features, as well as cool new venues and celebrity Zumba instructors who can help you reach your goal of developing a six pack.
With the Zumba Fitness Core, you can learn various dance styles and routines, including African, Polynesian, Brazilian Funk, Celtic Bluegrass, Jive, Axe, Jazz, and Disco. Other features consist a calorie tracker, expanded tutorials, a multi-player mode that can accomodate up to three participants, a revamped gameplay, and graphical representations of the instructors.
Although exergaming has been suggested as a way to improve health through exercise, respective traditional methods of exercise are still considered superior to their video game equivalents. Nevertheless, fitness games as we know them continue to take on new directions to adapt to the changing interests of people, both young and old. Whatever your purpose is, fitness games will definitely keep you on the move and entertained.
First published in Gadgets Magazine, July 2013
Words by Janelle Bautista