Is It Time We Bring Back Fitness Gaming?
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Exercise has a myriad of health benefits, both physical and mental, so it is often a good idea to work out in some capacity. Unfortunately, it’s not always practical and that is all the more true in the midst of a pandemic where people have to quarantine. That said, it is, perhaps, more important during quarantine as there are pretty good odds that staying home more than usual means people aren’t even getting the normal amount of exercise that they would typically get going about their day. That’s why video games can be a great tool to make it easier to get through all of this.

Beyond the fact that video games are fun and relaxing, there is a decent selection of games that are made with fitness in mind. This has been true for a while but one of the biggest games out right now might be one of the best for working out from home. The game I am referring to is Nintendo’s novel and innovative title, Ring Fit Adventure for the Nintendo Switch.

While going for walks is a good alternative in most places, Ring Fit Adventure is a great way to get cardio in for people who live in exceedingly hot places like, say, Phoenix where I have been quarantined. Lethargy is a very nasty habit and a climate like this makes it an easy one to fall into. Fortunately, I can work out in the comfort of my air-conditioned home. But the way the game is designed also makes it easy to break my lethargic habits.

For starters, it’s genuinely fun. The game uses the Ring-Con and Leg Strap accessories. The former is a ring that has a slot for one of the Nintendo Switch Joy Con controllers and is used for resistance training and helps maintain form. The Leg Strap, as you might assume, straps to the player’s leg and also holds one of the Joy Cons. Its function should be obvious but, in case it’s not, it is used to track leg movement. Together, these accessories are used to perform actions in an RPG adventure that would even be a worthwhile experience with a regular controller. The fact that the game tracks progress, which targets that part of the gamer brain that thrives on achievement, is the biggest ingredient that keeps me playing.

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The game is a big step up from Nintendo’s Wii Balance Board, an accessory they created for the Nintendo Wii to encourage fitness. That accessory proved to be immensely popular, becoming the “best-selling personal weighing device,” according to Guinness World Record. This came as a surprise to me at the time but one thing I should have learned about Nintendo by now is that their “gimmicks” tend to work. The Wii Balance Board didn’t have the best games in the world but it was effective as a workout device.

There are cheaper alternatives to these Nintendo products, and there are also a wide array of choices people can make so that they can find a product that works for them. Looking back at older generations is a great place to start. I have been playing a great deal of Dance Dance Revolution lately using my PlayStation 2 and the game’s dance mat accessory. Kinect games like Just Dance are also a good alternative. There’s a rich history of fitness games that stretch back decades, and there’s a degree to which just collecting them can be fun. Hell, the Dance Dance Revolution scene can be particularly intense and showing off your skills and modifying or maintaining old arcade cabinets can be a pretty engaging way to spend some of that time you’re saving by not driving to and from work or school.

Benjamin Maltbie
Benjamin Maltbie

Writing Team Lead
Date: 09/15/2020

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