Thursday, 03 May 2012 10:51
Gamers sometimes have had the stereotype of being pale, overweight, anti-social and a bit nerdy. But as the hobby continues to break new ground in other more popular societal pastimes, the “typical gamer” personality chart is starting to erode.
By Brad McKay
Party games like Guitar Hero and Mario Party have turned the once solo experience into a social gathering. Sports games that track the real life performance of athletes—I’m looking at you Madden ’12—have made video game lovers out of sports enthusiasts. Even tan people are pressing “start” on pop-influenced games, such as the Michael Jackson Experience. While delightful, these games still don’t solve the increased gravity stigma, as players still remain largely inactive on a couch.
With the rise of motion video gaming, the high-grossing electronic entertainment industry has started to tap into the overweight category, and not just by attracting new crowds, but by reshaping their current customers.
Active video game systems that utilize body movements, such as the Playstation Move, Nintendo Wii, and especially the Xbox Kinect, put players directly into the action by physically controlling the game with their own movement. Unfortunately, movements tend to be inefficient sweat-inducers. Subtle arm swings, leg kicks and torso turns don’t exactly bring the active crowd to the soiree, so few newcomers are introduced. Fitness-focused titles do entice more toned masses to invest in current technology and push players to reach their physical peaks, but these games often have little going in the “fun factor,” so typically do not spread to the community at large.
Pop culture seems to have broken this barrier, combining both fun gameplay with vigorous physical activity. Consider the dance title “The Black Eyed Peas Experience,” a dance game that features all the hit tracks of its platinum-selling namesake. The game seems simple enough: Three introductory stages have the player learn three different dance routines, which are combined into one complicated routine on the final stage. Little does one realize that, as difficulty increases, more muscles are employed, even those long forgotten. Before long, abs are on fire, thighs are begging for mercy and heart rates are flying through the roof.
By creating a title from a popular music group, especially one that is still in the current music scene, game developers have assured themselves that interest will be high. Making dance the focus of the game also unlocks the fit crowd door. But the biggest clincher is, since the game is also fun, it attracts current gamers to try out some moves, and once addicted to rocking their bodies, the pounds begin to fall to the wayside. What’s my workout, run and weight routine? Well, I start with “I Gotta Feeling,” throw in some “My Humps” for cardio, then bring it all home with “Imma Be.”
What other genre can say they accomplish this feat? Playing NHL ’12 doesn’t quite make someone a professional hockey player, and Skyrim hasn’t exactly fostered a cadre of dragon-slayers. The Black Eyed Peas can say they helped people get in shape, and since players are learning real dance steps, they can walk away from the TV confident that the next time they are told to bust a move, they can do so with flair (coincidently, these type of games may or may not have been a catalyst for my ability to “Dougie”).
So rejoice gaming community, for full-motion dance gaming is working hard to cure our boredom and our love handles. Now, if only we could work on indoor tanning peripherals. Get to it, Sony.