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.
For 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:
- there could be more exercises – ideally downloadable over the internet
- it would be nice if you could string together a customized series of exercises, that way you could create different workouts,
- 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
- there could be cooler trainers guiding you during your work out
- 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)
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.
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?)