Wii Fit · 15 August 2008

I got a Nintendo Wii Fit for Father’s Day. Everything I had read about it was intriguing so we bought into the hype and got the game. Even after playing for a couple months, I have not been disappointed.

Personally, I would not use Wii Fit to try and get in shape. I have enough activities, including running around with and after my kids, to keep relatively in shape. Sure, the game has lots of activities to help a person get stronger and in better aerobic shape but I did not want it for that. I wanted to learn a little yoga and play games in a different way.

There are no yoga routines on the Wii Fit game but there are poses that I have learned. I have always tried to be a balanced person with good posture. Instead of putting my foot up or sitting down when I put on and tie my shoes, I usually stand on one foot. I often like to sit on chairs without resting on the back. Wii Fit has helped to heighten my sense of balance and posture and the yoga poses have been a part of that. My wife, who has received some formal yoga training, has also helped me to understand more about how yoga works and how to do the poses better. It has been fun learning the poses and trying unlock new ones by repetition and time spent on the game.

As much as I like learning new things like yoga, what I really like about Wii Fit is the games. Specifically, the interface. The games on Wii Fit are pretty simple. Or at least they would be if the user could grab a typical controller and just move the joystick around. Games are a lot tougher with the balance board.

The balance board is a great interface innovation. I have really enjoyed heading virtual soccer balls and virtual ski jumping and putting virtual balls into virtual holes on various virtual surfaces. All by contorting my body on a balance board. Unlike “normal” video game controllers where body English does nothing, the Wii balance board is all about body English. Contorting your body is the only way to get things done with Wii Fit.

Having been around video games since they began, I find it interesting how they have progressed. No longer do we just press buttons and the character on the screen does what we want. Now, we can move on a balance board or move a remote to control what happens on the screen. It is probably just a matter of time before Nintendo or some other game manufacturer comes up with a controller that is just sensors placed on different parts of the body. As you move, your character moves. I can hardly wait.

Even if virtual reality games and body suit controllers are not quite here yet, Nintendo’s Wii Fit is a step in that direction. While some hard core gamers might dismiss the simple games and health advocates might object to the “fit” in the game, I for one have found it to be fun. Wii Fit was a great Father’s Day gift. It is enjoyable. And that is what video games are supposed to be.

© 2008 Michael T. Miyoshi

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