By Matthew Price
THE NEXT LEVEL
While some may criticize video games for encouraging sloth, Nintendo is attempting to give gamers a chance to play while improving fitness.
“Nintendo has really tried to reach out to a new gaming audience,” said Libe Goad, editor in chief at GameDaily, www.gamedaily.com. “They’re reaching out to moms; they’re reaching out to women … people who aren’t necessarily the hardcore gaming crowd.”
Wii Sports, which came packaged with the Nintendo Wii, encourages gamers to move around and play virtual sports. The upcoming Wii Fit takes it to yet another level. The game, which has been a hit in Japan, is a workout program done via the Nintendo Wii. Wii Fit is set for a May 19 release in North America.
“I think Nintendo is reaching out to that other market, people who play Wii Sports and really got into that, will have a chance to really get fit while playing Nintendo Wii,” Goad said.
Goad played the game in advance of the release, and said it’s a good workout, but a fun one.
“I was actually kind of winded doing some yoga on the balance board, which comes with the game,” she said. “We’ll see what happens to the gaming waistlines over the next few months.”
The game is played using a Wii Balance Board, a platform that connects to the Wii and records the gamer’s physical activity.
“It measures the pressure in your foot, and that’s how it measures how well you’re doing,” Goad said.
In addition to traditional exercises such as pushups, yoga and jogging, there are game-based workout activities.
“There’s a slalom game where you have to lean to the left and the right to avoid flags, there’s a game where you hula hoop, and you have to twirl your hips around to keep the hula hoops going on screen. There’s a lot of different, really fun activities they’ve baked into the game,” Goad said.
Goad said the “Wii Sports” and “Wii Fit” exercise games will help Nintendo reach a totally different audience — and help the overall health of the industry.
“Financially speaking for the video game industry, that’s how they’re going to make more money,” Goad said. “For the growth of the industry and the health of the industry, they need to reach out to this new audience.”