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?