Wii Fit: To Play or Not To Play
Alright, now we all know I love the hype, I love the gimmick, I love the silly. But I think Wii Fit is pushing the limits even for me…So to sort out my own thoughts I’d like to go through both sides of this crazy game. The good side, and the completely stupid why does it exist side. You can be the judge on which makes more sense for your life.
To preface, Wii Fit has tons to do including Yoga poses, muscle toning, aerobic workouts, and balance tests and training. Much like Brain Age, harder routines and moves are unlocked by the amount of time you spend playing the game, and more specifically, how much time you spend in each activity. There’s also a log that keeps track of the types of activities you do outside of the game and adds that into your total progress over time.
The game sets you up to want to change yourself and guides you through the motions on how to while trying to make it fun and in some cases silly. It worked in Wii Sports, and the thinking remains the same here – people don’t mind looking silly standing in front of a screen if their minds are occupied and they are having fun. Wii Fit is fun, but for how long is a personal choice and one I made within only a few moments of contemplation.
The Good Stuff!
Like all sim games, Wii Fit brings elements of different experiences into the home for easy use with no worries about people laughing at you or harassing you. In Guitar Hero/Rock Band you feel like a super champ of the musical world and have loads of fun “rocking out” even though all you’re really doing is pushing a few buttons in an intense game of simon says. The game lets you feel what it might be like to actually play real music. Dance Dance Revolution lets you shake your booty in the comfort of your living room where no one can see you or say “oh god get THAT off the dance floor!”. And for people who really can’t dance, having a pad to follow along with actually may help them feel the rhythm. These are beautiful things, truly wonderful delights that I’m glad people enjoy playing.
Wii Fit takes that concept and pushes it into a new realm – actual fitness and well-being. You are learning some new skills, albeit ones you could learn from a good article or book, but for some people doing a proper push-up or sit-up is just not in their consciousness whatsoever. Wii Fit takes these disconnected synapses and fastens them together, again in the comfort of one’s own home where no one can laugh at the chubby new kid at the club trying to lose some holiday weight. I don’t care what active living people say, going to the gym when you are not a “gym person” can be intimidating. Plus, some people’s lives just do not fit into a schedule where they can work out at a decent club before or after work. This world is crazy and non-stop and someone, somewhere is working a shitty shift that doesn’t lend itself to tension release on the squash court.
Having the ability to pull out a wee tiny step pad, get yourself into non-Lulu Lemon gear (because why impress with your super awesome $100 Yoga pants when no one can see them?) and have at it on your abs! A shiny, happy Mii character will smile at you and be your guide, your avatar in this new world of gettin’ fit. I don’t know about you, but having a nice little chart full of weight, age, height and where everything should be right in front of me is Hand to the Dee. I like seeing my infos in pretty Wii form, and I like the challenge of taking the numbers and working to make them better. I am the video game and I will conquer myself. Screw being a temple… I’m pixel potential!
As for the Yoga, and yes there are a few moves in that there Wii Fit…Well, classes are expensive, not every one has a yoga school/center in their area and going to yoga is intimidating for some people. So the answer: not a how-to DVD, but have a disembodied voice guide your avatar to inner peace.
See what I mean from this demo:
That’s just nice for those who have access to a Wii and this game, but don’t have a way to get into Yoga. Building bridges, expanding play to education and well being. That is the Way of Wii Fit.
Seniors! How many of us have grandparents who play Wii Sports? Tons of us! Loads of us! Insanely large numbers considering that before Wii Sports, grandparents could care less what us young whippersnappers were doing with our TVs and time. Now, obviously, something like squats are out of the question, but the deep breathing yoga exercises and some of the aerobic exercise are perfect for older people. And the fact that there is active holding of the Wiimote and stepping on the pad really focuses the mind more than simply doing the movements alone. It’s all part of the getting older package – work every thing, every day and it’ll keep working! Like I said though, this is a rather active game so not everything works, but some of it does and that’s enough to make it worthwhile for the whole family.
The Bad Stuff! (get ready for a severe tone change)
I can’t even begin to describe how angry this kind of game makes me. That these kinds of things are being invented and promoted as “healthy” and a good way to get “fit”! Yeah, a good way to stare at a TV for even more time than people already do. I get that it’s fun to play, but this type of game almost completely replaces going outside and getting out there to be active and fit. Nintendo is actually pushing this thing as the new wave of “active-play”! Active play my active ass! This is just an excuse to sell yet another clunky piece of plastic to clog up living rooms and eventually dumps all over the world. Why? For people to do push-ups, PUSH–UPS! Lunges! Sit-ups! Torso twists! You need to spend money in order to effectively do some stretches? What kind of bizarro world have I fallen into? This is just ridiculous. For $20 bucks, go out and get some ten pound weights, get to the library, oh no wait I’m sorry, Google some weight exercises and stretches and there you go. Wii Fit, but more practical, all for half a day of research.
These are our bodies peeps! Our bodies that we are so preciously given and hold a responsibility to take care of throughout our lives. Eat well, stretch, drink lots and lots and then even more water, and get out and do something. Go for walks, lift a few hand weights, do a few sit ups before going to work. Don’t eat shitty Red Dye #3 in crappy snack foods. Want to lose weight? Do the work! Want to get fit? Take the stairs! Busy lifestyle? Make the damn time!
Life is work. Fitness is work. A hell of a lot of hard work, and no silly game can change that. In a few weeks the gimmick of doing a workout in front of your TV with your step pad will wear off, and like every other fitness fad you’ll chuck it in the closet. Fitness isn’t something that can come from a game. Being healthy is a habit and a lifestyle. Creator and Nintendo God Miyamoto can’t change that fact, no matter how seemingly easy he makes it.
Is nigh…No, no not really, but you see where I’ve taken my stand as a gamer here. Now, I’m not saying the game isn’t tight and totally fun because it is and if you’re into things like Nintendogs (which I did play for two weeks) and you want to treat yourself in the same way to try and get a bit healthier, then good on ya and enjoy. I really do think fitness is important, and if this is your way to a healthy body and mind, then so be it.
What I’m also saying here is be careful, be mindful (as a Jedi once said) and do not take this game too seriously. Like the last Wii game I had problems with Wii Fit is getting rave reviews from all the big sites. And it is a game worthy of some good reviews, but in this case I can’t shake the logic of disliking this game and its concept.
Many people will buy this game, Time Magazine will rave, lots of local news stories about people losing weight from the Wii will pop up over the next few months. And then it will go away and after the peak of profit, Wii Fit will vanish from the hearts and minds of gamers.
Hopefully all those families Miyamoto wants to work out together will still be doing it though…because that’s a noble goal, unrealistic in many ways, but noble.