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Gaming your way to better shape - do exercise videogames really work?

The NPD Group released a report yesterday listing the top 10 best-selling games in the United States for 2009. While reading the report I felt pretty vindicated after a bunch of posters tried to knock my last post. Six of the top 10 games were Nintendo only games. Activision made the list twice for Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2 (PS3 and Xbox 360), while EA and Microsoft each had 1 game. As far as sales go, Nintendo cleaned up.

Now I don't want to get into another brawl about Nintendo and the Wii. What I want to talk about is something else I noticed in the report. The number 2 selling game of 2009, Wii Fit, was actually released in early 2008, so I did some digging. The Wii Fit has sold 22.5 million copies making it the second highest (unbundled) console game ever. That's more than Halo: Combat Evolved, Halo 2 and Halo 3 combined. That's more than the top 5 best selling games for Playstation 3 combined. That's a lot of plastic sitting around collecting dust.

So what's the big deal with this Wii Fit game? For that matter why are so many exercise games being created?
Why are there so many of these?

Isn't there a dichotomous relationship between exercise and video game playing? Perhaps, but notice the audience that these games are attempting to appeal to.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5SqI7SWx5Fg

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vYlgIdjybJ8

Do you see how every cover, every commercial and every message is an attempt to speak to women. That's the target audience for these games and calls for more fragmentation of a traditionally one dimensional product. Core gamers likely take exception to the fact that their medium is on a path to fragmentation and bemoan that studios will start to invest in more lucrative forms of video game making and leave their genre of choice behind. Maybe this happens and maybe it doesn't but anything that gives the video game industry more mainstream credibility AND opens up new revenue streams that make the pie bigger are okay by me.

But really the point of this post is to determine if exercise video games actually deliver a meaningful workout. I don't know, but ask me in a month. I've purchased EA Sports Active and am ready to take their 30 day workout challenge. Throughout the coming month I'll be posting the results of my workouts. I'm anticipating that it will be strenuous but I highly doubt I'll lose any weight.

I believe the correct approach to successful experiences with these workout games is to view them as exercise tools and not as video games to be conquered and controlled. I consider myself a core gamer and making my hobby of game playing into work may not be a good idea but I'll try it and let everyone know what risks and rewards are associated with going down this road.

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Also, I hope you've enjoyed my posts and will vote for me for Gamespotter of the Year. Remember to use my username - Safad0 (That's a Zero on the end there). It's nice to be recognized and I look forward to the new year of posts.