You’re possibly wondering what the heck Exergaming is, and how can it be a phenomenon when you’ve never heard of it. Well, just because you haven’t heard of the term, it doesn’t mean you don’t know what it is, and you may well have taken part in it yourself without realising.
What is Exergaming?
Exergaming is the combination of exercise and video games, and it has been around much longer than you realise. Remember the days where you’d head down to the arcade and jump on the dance machine? Working up a sweat as you step to the beat? That’s Exergaming. It’s where developers combine traditional fitness methods and make them more interactive by implementing them in video games.
A little bit of history
As I stated above, Exergaming isn’t new, even though the term itself might be. Possibly the earliest example of it is way back in 1982 when I wasn’t even a twinkle in my parent’s eyes. Amiga release the JoyBoard, a Wii Fit like device that would allow you to use your body as a joystick shifting your weight side-to-side. Sadly, the world wasn’t quite ready for it, with it only ever getting one release, a skiing game titled Mogul Maniac.
Sadly, the next few entrants into the world of Exergaming, whilst having more success than the JoyBoard, would still fall pretty flat. You had Bandai’s Powerpad released in 1986, which was similar to a dance mat in that you had controls on the floor that you would step on to activate. Followed by Mattel’s Power Glove in 1989, released for the NES. Whilst it looked cool, and almost every kid back then wanted one (so I’m told), it again failed to take the world by storm.
There would be many other devices released following that, with success varying for each. But out of them all one of the most popular was the arcade dance machines that I mentioned above. That was until Nintendo decided to release the Wii. A new and inventive console that pretty much made you the controller. It was an instant hit and games like Wii Sports flew saw their ranking in the UKIE Game Charts soar (although probably because it came free with every console).
Then came Wii Fit, a game based all around getting fit and would allow you to perform yoga positions, run, box and more. Best of all it would record your data so you could track your progress to see weight lost and calories burned over time. And then, the same folks behind that then developed Fitness Boxing (check out my review of it on FULLSYNC). A rhythm-based game that can help you maintain fitness, or burn off that excess fat through more intense cardio-based exercises. And that pretty much brings us up to today.
Why is it so popular?
Well, for me personally, I hate traditional exercise. Partly because I’m not the most outdoorsy person, and also I don’t like people. Not all people, well, yes, all people. But mainly people in gyms, and who stare at people who jog down the street. I’m self-conscious about my body image as it is, and even if they aren’t, I still convince myself people are watching me. So to be able to exercise in the comfort of my own home, it’s a godsend.
Moving on to why it’s so popular with others. Well, this is a time where the world is on lockdown and some people aren’t allowed out. So systems being put in place like this can be a godsend too. Allowing people who can’t go out to still get that exercise and have a bit of fun in the process. Especially nowadays where people can play against each other online.
You might not be able to go on a walk to the beach together, but you can sure as hell pick up a couple of controllers and battle it out in the ring over the internet. Or even just chat whilst you play and maybe compete by comparing your results. The possibilities are vast.
But even without lockdown Exergaming is still incredibly popular, especially with parents. Whereas some parents struggle to get their kids to go outside because they’re too engrossed in video games, and they’re worried about them becoming little chubsters. Other parents are embracing modern technology and encouraging kids to exergame instead, rather than developing a poor relationship by forcing them into things they don’t enjoy.
Why should you take part in Excergaming?
Simply put. Because of the good Exergaming can do.
I’ve seen them used in care homes, used by charities that support kids with disabilities, numerous places. And it’s amazing to see the good that can come of this. Especially when you often see video games being blamed for someone committing a crime, or their behaviour being abnormal. It’s all a load of codswallop. People just look for an excuse and blame the first thing they don’t understand.
But video games can be such a force for good too. Especially when they encourage you to get out of your chair and burn off that cake you just ate.
Plus it’s a lot cheaper than a gym membership too!
Written by the good folks over at FULLSYNC.