By penguindust 8 Comments
I think what interested me most from the 3 conferences during this year's E3 presented so far is the number of games that require actual physical activity to play them. These games go beyond the wrist-flicking and simple wave of a hand required by your average Wii game.
EA Sports Active 2 will be available on all three consoles for all of the current and forthcoming motion controls. Ubisoft is pushing their yoga game again and like EA's will be playable on the 360 and PS3 this fall. They followed the Your Shape yoga focused presentation with a demo for a new game called Innergy. It uses a peripheral described as an “energy sensor” which bears a striking resemblance to Nintendo's Wii-Vitality sensor. This bio-feedback game is about controlling your breathing and setting your mind into a calm state to direct a dot through a Technicolor psychedelic maze. The most bizarre game however appeared to be a mix of real world Laser Tag with console or PC recorded stats and leader boards called Battle-Tag. I guess the company hopes you'll buy this game then go outside and play a game of Laser Tag complete with fake guns and hit-sensor embedded chest pads. Finally, in this list of Jack Lalanne inspired products there was the motion controller, Kinect from Microsoft which had presenters running frantically in place, rolling around on the ground and dancing with the same frenzy of energy normally reserved for Britney Spears’ videos.
Today, Sony and Nintendo will show their line up and I firmly expect to see more games in this growing health and wellness genre propelled by the success of Wii-Fit. Since Sony will be introducing their Move motion controller and Nintendo will likely be showcasing last year's enigma, the Vitality sensor, I expect to see more exercise games, more yoga games and more Today Show friendly games for Meredith Vieira to stumble over on morning television.
In a study conducted by the University of Essex on professional video game athletes, they found that while their reflexes are on par with those of military fighter pilots, they also have bodies as comparably unhealthy as those of 60-year old chain smokers. Perhaps this expanding genre will address that finding. Certainly, across America, the amount of fitness and extracurricular activities offered by public school systems is less than what is was 20 years ago, but are video games really expected to bridge that gap? And, are game publisher's actions earnest about this trend or is their focus actually on winning over Moms and other non-gaming members of the household? Do any of these new wellness games appeal to gaming enthusiasts? Perhaps I have become jaded in my old age, but the more I see of these games, the stronger I believe they are (A) an insult to the overall gaming population, (B) a money-grab for the casual market place and (C) a sign of desperation by publishers to expand outside (and away) from the 'core game enthusiast.