ParticipAction 2.0 – Get Hal and Joanne on my Wii!

About a month ago a good friend lent me their WiiFit so that I could give it a try. I confess, I’ve become a fan.

wii-fit-01-540x540For those unfamiliar with the WiiFit it is a balance board you use with the Wii game consol to do strength building exerices, yoga, and balance games to develop flexibility, strengthen core muscles and burn calories. You can read more about the Wii Fit, its benefits and drawbacks here, and here.

The Wii Fit continues a trend of video games that find ways to get people to be active. Anyone whose tried Dance Dance Revolution, or even boxing and tennis on the Wii knows what I’m talking about. Still more amazing is how many households can now access this technology. 986,200 Wii’s have been sold in Canada as of July 1st, 2008. That is essentially one Wii for every 32 Canadians, one for every 12 households. Imagine if 1 in every 12 houses had a tread mill, or even a simple yoga video. Well, in a sense they do!

What is most interesting is that the Canadian government could help take this type of activity to the next level. Despite its success the WiiFit sufferes from a few shortcomings:

  1. there could be more exercises – ideally downloadable over the internet
  2. it would be nice if you could string together a customized series of exercises, that way you could create different workouts,
  3. the pace of the “trainers” is pretty slow, it be nice if you could eliminate their introductions and wrap ups to each exercise, by doing so you could increase the pace and a “workout” much more vigorous
  4. there could be cooler trainers guiding you during your work out
  5. it would be nice if more than one balance board could be connected to a given Wii – that way you could work out with friend(s)

180px-Participaction

In short, what we have is an increadible technology, one that touches millions of Canadians, and yet it is short on its potential. Thought of differently, every Wii Fit board, Nintendo Wii and television has the potential of becoming an instant gym.

hal_jo_06

Ideally, the community could create a game with several trainers or even “skins” – such a variety of themes could increase the appeal to different niches. I can already imagine someone grabbing and digitally editing a bunch of the old Hal and Joanne videos so that they appear to be doing exercises on the Wii balance board – one can imagine it being the must have retro cool game.What if the newly revived ParticipACTION partnered with Nintendo to create a new WiiFit game. ParticipACTION would agree to pay a discounted license fee to nintendo, and in exchange it would sponsor an open source community to create a ParticipACTION WiiFit game – one that could be cheaply distributed and customized to appeal to anyone, but especially the very kids who are most at risk of not exercising…

(the fact that, in researching this post, I discovered the participation archive project again reveals the mysteries and wonders of the internet. I mean, if there are transit geeks, why not participaction geeks?)

9 thoughts on “ParticipAction 2.0 – Get Hal and Joanne on my Wii!

  1. Anonymous

    No, not those two! They have egos bigger than Harper’s stomach. Several years ago they wanted to butt in line at a pizza place because they were supposedly “important TV people.” Hal even threatened me. What a classy guy.

    Reply
  2. jeremyvernon

    While the concept is definitely sound there are some caveats that need to be taken into consideration.

    Firstly, an open source project for the Nintendo project would be a no-go. Nintendo retains strict proprietary control over access to the API, devleopment versions of consoles, documentation of the SDK, the SDK itself etc – these all have to be purchased from Nintendo. Unless it does something akin to the XNA network released by Microsoft (allowing anyone with a 360 to make XBOX 360 video games) the chances of running an open source development effort are curtailed by Nintendo’s licensing scheme.

    Secondly, be careful about conflating Wii sales numbers with Wii fit sales numbers – the Wii-fit controller IS popular, to be sure, but it will never be equal to the total number of Wii’s out there. Moreover, if you know many Wii owners you know that it’s a novelty box rather than a lifestyle machine – so while sales are high usage per person is quite low.

    Thirdly, Nintendo would be very wary about licensing a game that would essentially only market to Canadians. The Japanese and American markets are essentially all that matters to them and thusly a Canadian brand like Participaction would be a tough sell for Nintendo.

    That said, I would recommend doing online distribution and avoiding the massive up-front costs of retail shelves – the Wii offers online distribution for games that meet certain technical specifications (total memory footprint being the most important).

    Ultimately however, even in Canada I would argue that the Nintendo and WiiFit brand already overpowers the (rather dated) ParticipACTION – and thus the value-add of ParticipACTION’s involvement would probably outweight the complexities it introduces (bilingualism, Canadian content).

    Reply
  3. Anonymous

    No, not those two! They have egos bigger than Harper's stomach. Several years ago they wanted to butt in line at a pizza place because they were supposedly “important TV people.” Hal even threatened me. What a classy guy.

    Reply
  4. Pingback: Recent Links Tagged With "wiifit" - JabberTags

  5. DanceScape

    Hi David,I just came across your blog … great suggestions! My name is Robert Tang, and my wife and I are former 3-time Canadian and 2-time North American Amatuer Standard Ballroom Champions. My personal story is currently featured in the latest ParticipACTION Television commercial. It has been great working with the ParticipACTION team, as we're all dedicated to getting people moving through all kinds of physical activities, traditional AND non-traditional. Love your idea about Wii … the only thing is that ParticipACTION is non-profit and funding is always an issue. Do you have expertise in licensing, would love to discuss further. Thanks!

    Reply
  6. DanceScape

    Hi David,I just came across your blog … great suggestions! My name is Robert Tang, and my wife and I are former 3-time Canadian and 2-time North American Amatuer Standard Ballroom Champions. My personal story is currently featured in the latest ParticipACTION Television commercial. It has been great working with the ParticipACTION team, as we're all dedicated to getting people moving through all kinds of physical activities, traditional AND non-traditional. Love your idea about Wii … the only thing is that ParticipACTION is non-profit and funding is always an issue. Do you have expertise in licensing, would love to discuss further. Thanks!

    Reply

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