Gaming has had a bad rap in the past, perceived to be unhealthy and associated with a sedentary lifestyle, most games were played sitting in a slouched position on the sofa. Whilst change has been on the horizon for a while now, consoles that required movement, such as the EyeToy or Wii saw a short popularity peak before being left to gather dust in the cupboard. However, as tech innovations are introduced at an ever-accelerating rate, the traditional joystick model is no longer cutting it for some technology consumers and gamified exercise is finally taking its place amongst the heavyweights.
Appealing to those for whom traditional exercise models, such as the gym, do not, VR excels at taking the chore out of getting fit. Games like The Thrill of the Fight and Knock Out League allow users to step into the shoes of fighters in a way that Tekken never could, Beat Saber combines Star Wars elements with Guitar Hero making users feel like Hans Guitar Solo, whilst Sparc means you can relive high school dodgeball without the humiliation. What they all have in common is the idea of escapism and of fantasy. Users report finding it easier to exercise as they aren’t thinking about their body or the bodies of those around them, especially as with the headset on they can’t even see themselves.
Gamer, Dusty Fohs, who came to VR for fun, recently announced that he had lost 20 pounds, citing that “treadmills and ellipticals bore me to death with the same repetitive movements over and over. They’re like hamster wheels for humans.” His opinion was echoed by a 67-year-old gamer earlier this month who claims he lost 12 pounds in just two months of using his HTC Vive.
These stories are a great testament to technology’s ability to enhance the lives of users, and to the creators who have seen holes in previous concepts and filled them, but they’re also testament to the fact that deep down we’re all still kids at heart.
“The future of fitness is all about immersion in another world, away from the hassle of the day and of mundane reality. No longer will you be a fitness newbie or weekend warrior, but you’ll be able to become ‘Chris Boardman’ on a racing track, or a super-charged bionic being in a virtual cityscape.” – Justin Musgrove, Chief Executive, Bannatyne Group