Heart-healthy gaming isn’t just for Wii

When Nintendo and the American Heart Association announced they would make an announcement yesterday, many gamers thought it would be the debut of the Vitality Sensor, a heart-rate-monitoring add-on for Wii which they showed a prototype of last year.  But the big news turned out to be more of a marketing-backscratching deal:  the AHA will put its seal of approval on the Wii console and specific games Wii Fit Plus and Wii Sports Resort (the latter is now included with purchase of every new Wii console, along with Wii Sports).  In return, Nintendo gave the AHA a donation and will work with them in projects such as this new web site, activeplaynow.com.

Nothing ever occurs in the video game world without controversy, and a mainstream-media hubbub ensued over money and influence and whether video games really are exercise and whether we Americans should be approving of foreign products and so on.  I think it’s fantastic when exergaming gets mainstream attention, but it’s too bad that the AHA seal will be reserved only for certain games, because there are lots of other great cardio games, and not all are on Wii.

Many people don’t realize that not all Wii games are made by Nintendo, and in fact a lot of excellent active games for Wii are made by other companies.  EA Sports Active comes from EA; Just Dance, Your Shape and Gold’s Gym Cardio Workout are by Ubisoft; the DDR series and Walk It Out are from Konami, and so on.  But because these games are  simply licensed by Nintendo and not actually made by them, they’re not in the running for that AHA badge, no matter how deserving.

Moreover, “Wii” certainly isn’t the first and last word in exergaming, no matter how much Nintendo wants it that way.  DDR began in video arcades and was on Playstation and Xbox long before Wii came along – and I still like the PS2 and Xbox versions better than the Wii ones.  Peripherals like Gamercize turn any console game into an exergame.  Nintendo’s own DS has games like Personal Trainer Walking and Pokemon HeartGold/SoulSilver that turn a heart-healthy outdoor walk into a game.  And when Xbox 360 and PS3 come out with their own motion controllers later this year, the home exergaming market will bust wide open.

Good for the AHA and more doctors recognizing that active games are good for our health, and good for Nintendo in focusing on fitness, but when consumers shop for cardio games, they should look outside the AHA-stamped box.  May I suggest for starters:

  • Just Dance
  • Golds Gym Cardio Workout
  • Walk It Out
  • Active Life Outdoor Challenge
  • We Cheer 2
  • Pokemon HeartGold or SoulSilver for DS
  • and, yeah, DDR

Posted on May 18, 2010, in Exergames in the news, Just sayin' and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Money talks for sure. AHA would be better served to really think through wellness and what people will do for the long term http://hcdhome.wordpress.com/category/wellnessgaming/

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