Can Wii lose weight?

The annual Electronics Entertainment Expo (E3) took place this past July showcasing all of the major companies in gaming like Sony, Microsoft and, of course, one of the few gaming oriented companies that has remained successful in strictly virtual entertainment, Nintendo. Nintendo unveiled a new Wii Health Pack at E3 that is to be incorporated with the latest the Nintendo Wii.

Wii Balance Board- is the latest peripheral device for the Nintendo Wii. The board resembles the size and shape of a white bathroom scale. The board is connected wirelessly to the Nintendo Wii and not only measures weight but, with certain pressure sensors located in the board, it can also record the player’s center of mass and body mass index (BMI). When you first begin to use the board there is a health check feature that establishes your stats (height, weight, etc.) and recognizes if the way you stand is healthy or unhealthy to your posture.

The board can also detect how your body shifts from side to side. At E3 the demonstration showed that shifting in body weight is an enormous factor in game play that deals with balance. Throughout a period of time, there will be an available line graph of weight or BMI measurements available to compare your results with your family.

Wii Fit-is the accompanying software that works in conjunction with the balance board. The Wii Fit software is rumored to have about 40 different activities to choose from. In the demonstration at E3, the activities shown ranged from yoga poses to hula hooping. In a similar fashion, the Wii Board will also be used as a stepper for step aerobics that is vaguely similar to the other stepping game, Dance Dance Revolution (DDR).

Shigeru Miyamoto had the idea of a Wii Health Pack while designing the beginning concepts of the Nintendo Wii. Although the design is stylish, many questions arose at E3. Can the balance board accommodate American players? In an interview with IGN’s Jeremy Parish, Miyamoto states, “We’re going to launch in Japan first and get feedback and decide if we need to make something that’s American-sized. We may need to super-size!” He also said that he would ideally want a worldwide size for release.

Will this accommodate hardcore gamers? Analysts recognize that this may actually not entice hardcore gamers because there is no ultimate end or goal. This may not be a problem for Nintendo because the Wii has been developed from the start to ultimately bring more casual gamers to the market. One actual statement that gives hope to gamers comes from Square-Enix video game director Motomu Toriyama who said that the “whole system and mechanism of using your weight and balance to control games is something we’re interested in incorporation into future role playing game titles.”

Can we lose weight? The only game that has actually shown a significant amount of success in weight loss is DDR. “I am familiar with DDR,” said Cedric Bryant, PhD, Chief Exercise Physiologist for the American Council on Exercise in an interview with WebMD. “My four boys play it. It can be strenuous and can really get your heart rate up. It has different levels of intensity.”

DDR is a great aerobic exercise and some players have reported weight loss ranging from 10-50 pounds. DDR also records calories burned in a period of gameplay and reports them in a chart very similarly to the Wii Fit function. DDR has been so successful that many schools use the game in physical education classes. The release date for the Wii Health Pack will be announced later next year and, judging by the success of DDR, might just be available at a school near you.

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