Wii Fit

One of the original selling points of the Wii console was that by its very nature, the control scheme necessitated more activity and movement in game play. This allowed the launch title Wii Sports to have an exercise theme beyond merely being a sports game. Several people also attempted to use that game to lose weight with varied results and published them on the Internet. Wii Fit, however, takes this one step further by actually making exercise the point of the game.

The term ‘game’ is applied extremely loosely here. Wii Fit is more accurately a piece of “software.” It has mini games within it, but the overall intent of this title is self-improvement. This places Wii Fit in the same realm as other personal narratives, which it certainly is. Your progress is tracked and weighted just like in previous similar games like Brain Age, Brain Age 2, Flash Focus, and Wii Sports. The player’s performance in the game is rated in a number of ways. Individual performance in exercise activities is rated along a continuum. Ever exercise is different, some focus on weight distribution, some on strength, some on balance and steadiness. Your center of balance, body mass index, and unique “Wii Fit Age” are all used to help the user determine how you’ve done, and how far you progressed or regressed.

Balance Board

The title comes with the Balance Board, a Wii peripheral which is completely innovative for a game console. Previous attempts at similar devices like Dance Dance Revolution game pads which measure whether or not you’ve stepped on a certain area, date back to the 8-bit gaming era. The Balance Board is different in that it is a highly advanced piece of equipment that can measure body placement and movement with a level of depth far greater than previous.

When coupled with the Wii remote and its peripherals (the nunchuck), there is an unprecedented amount of input being given to the console. This information is used to provide feedback to the player regarding the activities he or she is performing. This comes through the voice of the in-game trainers who gently inform the player what he or she probably already knows– “Your legs are shaking a little.” in other words, you’ve got a long way to go.

Exercise as Game: The Physical Puzzle

We’ve examined how the puzzle can be considered a form of literature in games like Tetris DS or Professor Layton and the Curious Village. With Wii Fit, we are presented with a similar obstacle. But unlike those games, where the puzzle was a mental challenge, in this title they are physical challenges. Yoga poses, in particular, require a lot of thought, experience, and concentration to master. With many puzzles, repeated attempts, problem solving, and patience are required to crack them and to reveal a sudden explanation. With these physical puzzles, the same attributes are required as the player repeats a pose over and over again until he or she has enough experience and information to complete the pose with a high or perfect score. Similarly, both types of puzzles present a sense of accomplishment for besting the challenge.

Wii Fit represents a decent exercise regimen, but we aren’t here to rate work out equipment. The game’s use of the Mii characters, which are appropriately proportioned given the player’s own BMI, coupled with the innovation of the Balance Board, represent further progress away from the third-party avatars and limited arbitrary button inputs of the previous video game generations and towards something new and different.

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