News Article

Wii Motion Gaming Won't Guarantee Better Fitness

Posted by Thomas Whitehead

According to research in the U.S.

Since the arrival of Wii in 2006 the concept of motion gaming has not only became mainstream, but has arguably dominated the so-called 'casual' gaming scene. Not to be distracted by the term, it's safe to say that a fair proportion of Wii sales can be attributed to families and people new to gaming who have been enticed by experiences such as Wii Sports and Wii Fit.

Part of the appeal of these kind of active games is that gamers exercise as they play, though a recent report by researchers from Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas, suggests that this isn't necessarily the case. This study focussed on children, so 78 kids were given Wii consoles and half were given 'active' titles such as Wii Sports, while the other half were given inactive games such as Super Mario Galaxy. The activity and level of exercise of the children was monitored over a period of 13 weeks, with the final result being that the level of physical activity between the two groups was practically identical.

The researchers admitted that they were in no position to determine whether children with active games went on to do less normal exercise as a result, causing the two groups to return similar results. While the researchers claim that their study "indicates that there's no public health benefit from having those active video games", others who have conducted similar research say that active gaming can have subtle, long term benefits. Kevin Short, who has studied exercise and video games at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center in Oklahoma City, defended the value of motion gaming as exercise when it replaces inactive activities:

The Wii could serve as a potential replacement for sedentary screen time, like TV or other video games. If we could replace some of that time when they're just sitting still and not moving... with something active, that may provide some benefit.

While studies like this are interesting in light of the way Wii has been marketed in the past, it's important to accept that motion gaming, particularly titles that only use the standard Wii Remote and not MotionPlus, are only as active as gamers make them. While Wii Sports can feel like a real sport, or dancing games like real dancing if you physically simulate actions, they can also be played with simple waggling. This research doesn't appear to have used Wii Sports Resort or Wii Fit as part of the testing, which seem like strange omissions.

What do you think? Is research like this fair and useful for considering motion gaming, or flawed and potentially innacurate?

[via healthnews.com]

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User Comments (25)

Bass_X0

#1

Bass_X0 said:

I prefer the traditional button pressing instead of swinging my arms from side to side like I'm doing the Mario. But whatever makes Nintendo popular and rich, I guess.

eviLaTtenDant

#3

eviLaTtenDant said:

You can say about these studies what you will but at least these kids got to play some great games for quite some weeks. [sub]If they're PS360 fanboys and it was a punishment for 'em, even better.[/usb]

warioswoods

#5

warioswoods said:

Not this nonsense again... this study hasn't done enough work to conclude anything whatsoever. They just threw 2 different kinds of games at kids and then stood back.

If used in the context of the right parental guidance, more active titles can absolutely be helpful for keeping kids from just sinking into the couch with a controller when they get home from school. I've seen all this play out with my younger relatives and their very attentive parents (one of my sisters is in physical education, and she really makes good use of Wii gaming time with her family).

Studies like this one are just looking for a headline, but haven't done much other than take a small sample and run some numbers, without getting into the details of how games of different types can be integrated into parenting.

Samholy

#6

Samholy said:

ps3 controllers are the best, and didnt need much ergonomic improvements since the first release ! while motion is a fun way to play, i find it limiting. some games REQUIRE ALL the ps3 buttons to be playable, and sometimes you wish you could have a sidepad to help with shortcuts.

anyway, nintendo games is clearly another universe compared to sony games. nintendo makes everything enjoyable, fun, clean looking and yet manage to put brainwhacking puzzles for the older gamers.

LEGEND_MARIOID

#7

LEGEND_MARIOID said:

Its still a lot better than sitting on your posteior and doing nothing. That's just common senese. If you want to get fit, your whole life has to have an active psychology, not just your gaming.

torotoid64

#8

torotoid64 said:

The research is coming from the same country that………………………… nvm :D

ChibiJib

#9

ChibiJib said:

at the end of the day, they're still videogames, and videogames weren't made for fitness... they're made for fun.

ReindeerDasher

#10

ReindeerDasher said:

It's nice to have a new way of playing a game. Before it was pretty much only sitting. Then came the Wii and there was a new way of playig it. There might be some games that actually help, Wii Fit does more than excersize such as Yoga(Not saying I do that!)at least Wii Fit Plus does,and with the kinect i think it is definite there is a bit of a workout, but i dont really want the kinect's wa of gaming, it makes me tired so that i dnt want to play anymore, and im not the most fit...

Sakura_Moonlight2421

#11

Sakura_Moonlight2421 said:

rolls eyes at study They do know they could have studied something important, like I don't know, a cure for cancer, Alzheimer's, and cures for other diseases.

TheChosen

#12

TheChosen said:

Before I went to the army, I did exercises for Wii Fit for two months. It didnt turn me into Rambo, but it did help soften the harsh blows of all physical training. True story.

Vincent294

#13

Vincent294 said:

Really? Look, these kids probably stood up and jumped and all that stuff while doing SMG2. Here's an idea: come up w/ better controlled variables. Try teens w/ Call of Duty MW3 w/ the Classic Controller Pro or use the PC/PS3/360 versions. Then use Wii Sports, no sitting down allowed. Mario Galaxy has flicking the remote as a control a lot, and if your like me, you also have a tendency to get up while playing it. Heck, when things get hairy, I do the same in MW3. Perhaps the Wii Fit kids were lazier too. Have the kids do both sides of the test.
EDIT: I meant during Wii Sports, some people sit down and flick the Wii remote just because they're too lazy to stand up.

StuffyStuff

#14

StuffyStuff said:

I've never broken a sweat playing the Wii, not even with the Fit games. The only physical strain I've put on my body was my elbows killing me from the baseball game.

DarkKirby

#15

DarkKirby said:

I'm not saying owning a Wii even with stuff like Wii Sports Resort and using them is going to make you fit, but it's going to do a better job then sitting in front of your 360 and shouting obscenities at people while playing Call of Duty. Also, Wii Sports Resort may have had a longer life if they had online play, trying to beat AI Lucia who cheats can only bring so many hours of "entertainment".

The problem with so many of these "research" projects is even before the project started, they already had something in mind they were trying to prove, or in some cases, were PAID to prove, so logically the project goes out of its way to prove a certain point and ignores or discredits things that may go against what they are trying to prove, sometimes ignoring logic to do so, rather then try to find the most accurate result.

WOLFER

#16

WOLFER said:

Yea if you wanna get fit, hit the gym or start running..... In my opinion, the wii motion controls are just a gimmick so nintendo can cash in on it....

armoredghor

#17

armoredghor said:

It improved the immersion but they never said it improved fitness. Even wii fit isn't supposed to. If you actually get into the first one, it starts off talking about posture and how to fix it. That's all it's supposed to do.

TrueWiiMaster

#18

TrueWiiMaster said:

I'd have to say any research done on active gaming being good exercise that excludes Wii Fit is useless. They might as well have done research on whether brain games have any effect without testing Brain Age. Wii Fit is the title that specifically said it would be good exercise. Leaving it out is ridiculous.

Squiggle55

#19

Squiggle55 said:

lol, there is no control in these studies at all. how about having 100 kids, 50 in each group, eating the exactly same food and getting the exact same amount of sleep and being locked in a room for 1 year and forced to play either 1)wii fit all day long 2)call of duty all day long. now THAT's a test. And the results should be obvious.

The_Fox

#20

The_Fox said:

Or you could, you know, do actual exercise instead of hoping video games will keep you fitter. Not even Wii Fit is a sufficient replacement for a real exercise regimen (although it's certainly better than nothing).

Maggots

#21

Maggots said:

well this is 6 years too late... So everyone join me in saying... "Who Cares" ... to those who study nonsense...

Grackler

#24

Grackler said:

While I don't really see "active" games as exercise, or even care if they are, this was a terrible study and its lack of scientific rigour should be addressed. Firstly, the sample size of both groups was only 78 children (39 per group), which is far too small (although they did mostly use a proper selection process to be fair). Secondly, the amount of time spent on each game wasn't factored in at all. Thirdly, and possibly most importantly, the "exercise" was recorded by an accelerometer at hip height to track leg movement and turn this into effective "Calories burnt" for an average child. This is very foolish, since the games selected involved mostly upper-body movement, which isn't tracked at all. Finally, currently what exercise actually is good for you is something still under debate (see BBC's '3 minutes intensive exercise' story this week), so sweeping statements like this without taking other work into consideration are stupid. Basically, this is a headline-grabbing non-story using statistics (as most if not all of the "Wii games are good for you" studies were too). Still, all the kids got to keep the Wii's and games, so at least they're happy!

ToastyYogurt

#25

ToastyYogurt said:

I would take this seriously if it was a more controlled experiment. In order for an experiment to yield good results, you got to keep as many factors the same. The studies don't say anything about all the kids having equal playtime or if the ones playing Wii Sports were forced to stand up and play rather than bowl from the couch seat, which leads me to believe that this wasn't a proper experiment.

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