Another good reason for older folks to get their (exer)game on: as reported in The Atlantic, a study at Union College found that a group of seniors who rode exercise bikes equipped with a Cyberbike-like video game, gained better executive function and a lowering of progression to dementia than a group of seniors riding exercise bikes that weren’t equipped with video games.
There was the same exercise frequency, intensity and duration between the two groups – but the exergaming elders performed better on memory tests than the non-gamers, and I bet they had more fun, too!
My daughter loves her Nintendo 3DS, the handheld game console that succeeded the Nintendo DS, and I agree that it’s a nifty little gadget. Among many other features, it has a pedometer built right in, and an Activity Log on the main menu automatically records your daily steps if you go for a walk with your 3DS. The built-in pedometer means that games can also have the ability to give you bonuses for getting up and walking around. No need anymore for 3DS games to have peripheral pedometers like the Pokemon HeartGold/SoulSilver Pokewalker or the pedometers that came with Personal Trainer Walking or My Weight Loss Coach for DS.
So there should be more 3DS walking and activity games than you can shake a walking stick at, right? Doesn’t look that way. Even though there were several walking and general health and fitness games for the old DS console (see the list here), my active game list for 3DS remains empty. You can play any DS game on the 3DS, and it is easier to have a tiny pedometer clipped on than to carry the 3DS console in your pocket all the time, but it would still be great to have more games that take advantage of the built-in pedometer technology. Besides, you’re less likely to put your pants in the washing machine with the 3DS in the pocket.
It’s not easy to even find which 3DS games give you bonuses for walking. One that does is Nintendogs + Cats, a fun simulation game in which you adopt and pamper a virtual puppy. You can take Rover for a fake walk by just steering with your stylus, but if you take the console for a real walk with the game turned on, not only do you burn real fat and gain real fitness, you also get presents from your dog, and not the kind you have to scoop. Gifts depend on how many steps you take; according to the list at Nintendogs Wiki, they range from a dog biscuit for 10-99 steps all the way up to a gold bar for 99999+ steps.
The Street Pass feature built in to the 3DS is another feature that might encourage walking, or at least getting out of the house. With Street Pass, you leave the wireless internet detector on in the 3DS as you walk around, and if another wireless-activated 3DS is in the vicinity, your Mii avatars will “visit” each other and sometimes exchange gifts, or show off their Nintendog or Nintenkitten. We’ve walked extra loops around crowded malls just to try to collect Miis.
Do readers know of any other 3DS games that encourage walking?
I received a free copy of Just Dance Kids 2 for Kinect through the Amazon Vine program, so the following is a copy of the review I wrote for the game.
Vine reviewers with kids between the ages of 3 and 8 were asked to review this game, and I think that’s a good age range for Just Dance Kids 2. My 7-year-old enjoys this game, while my 10-year-old prefers the “big” Just Dance 3 Kinect game.
This game is structured slightly differently from JD3. When players jump in front of the camera to play, it takes a picture of your face, and with gestures you can select a cartoon avatar that’s either boyish or girlish. (That’s an important distinction for young kids!) The videos show actual kids dancing against colorful backdrops, and the steps themselves are much simpler and more repetitive than the regular Just Dance dances. The songlist is more kid-oriented than JD (“Lollipop” here is the “lollipop, lollipop, oh lolly lolly lolly” song, NOT the “sucking too hard on your lollipop” song in JD3) although not as large, and so far there’s no downloadable songs. It’s very easy for players to jump in and out mid-song, but make sure there’s plenty of room for them to jump around – it can get pretty chaotic! The “create your own dance” feature is also included and a lot of fun.
This would probably have the most appeal to the Barney and Yo Gabba Gabba set. The controls are easy to use even for the youngest gamers, provided the camera can see them. If they’re older and already listen to a lot of pop songs, Just Dance 3 may be a better buy.
Here is the song list, from the description on Amazon:
Hot Pop Songs for Older Kids!
- Burnin’ up
- Dumb Love
- Feeling Good
- On Our Way
- I’m Gonna Catch You
- Just The Way You Are
- Love Me
- Whip My Hair
- Song 2
- Start All Over
Songs from kids’ favorite movies and TV shows
- Accidentally in Love
- Despicable Me
- Hold Still – Yo Gabba Gabba
- I Am A Gummy Bear (The Gummy Bear Song)
- Jump Up!
- The Robot Song – Yo Gabba Gabba
- Follow The Leader – The Wiggles
- The Shimmie Shake! – The Wiggles
- The Lion Sleeps Tonight
- Something That I Want
Fun Songs for Younger Kids
- Party Goes Down
- Itsy Bitsy Spider
- Five Little Monkeys
- Mah Nà Mah Nà
- Girls Can Too
- Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes
- Summer School
- Hand in Hand
Classic Kid favorites!
- Barbara Ann
- Crocodile Rock
- Jingle Bells
- Shake Your Groove Thing
- Hand in Hand
Big Lots (store locations), which recently stocked Tony Hawk Shred for $20, is now getting in some active games for Xbox 360 Kinect for only $18.88 apiece. The above ad shows Biggest Loser Ultimate Workout, Sonic Free Riders and Kinectimals knockoff Fantastic Pets.
All three of those games have free, downloadable demo versions available at Xbox Live Marketplace. The only one I’ve tried so far is Biggest Loser. As I wrote earlier, it’s a decent workout game, probably best for people who are truly fans of the show (I’m not).
On Saturday, I took the kids to Nickelodeon’s Worldwide Day of Play event on the Ellipse in DC, across from the White House. The main attraction was the appearance of Nick stars such as Victoria Justice and boy band Big Time Rush, and that caused a big time rush of 50,000 screaming fans and harried parents to show up. I was the only one of us to spot Victoria through the mob; she looked tiny enough to blend in on any grade school playground.
One of the booths at the event had demos of the Wii game Nickelodeon Dance, set to come out this fall. As one would imagine, it looks like Just Dance with Nick characters and Nick music. We didn’t get to play it, but it looked like the players were having fun with it.
There were many other booths promoting soccer, baseball, tennis, rock climbing, national parks, and the ubiquitous Zumba. At most of them, the biggest activity was waiting in line. But the activity that my kids found the most engaging, was this unofficial one…
Near the first aid station, there was a big pile of ice cubes that had been dumped on the ground. It wasn’t very hot out, so my kids and others who discovered it began sliding in it, jumping in it, grinding them into mud and even throwing them.
See, even Nintendo-bred kids know how to play! Next year, they should just have a big ice/mud field and let the kids go for it.