Wii Fit™ is a video game for the popular Wii entertainment system, produced by Nintendo. Unlike most video games, which are produced primarily for entertainment, Wii Fit™ is built largely to help people get in shape. It provides a number of different exercise modules, and is played by using a special peripheral, the Wii Balance Board. The game is massively popular, and many people have lauded it as a step towards helping to promote universal health, especially among sectors of the population that are traditionally out of shape.
First released in Japan in late-2007, the Wii Fit™ made its way to the rest of the world throughout 2008. By early 2009 the game had sold more than 14 million copies worldwide, making it Nintendo’s third best-selling game for the Wii system, and generating more than $1 billion US Dollars (USD) in revenue. The game itself sells for around $90 USD, and includes a Balance Board.
Although designed to help people get into shape, the Wii Fit™ system accomplishes this by mimicking the structure and incentives of a traditional video game. For example, there are 48 games available in total, but many are not initially available for a player to choose. Instead, these games must be unlocked by spending credits from the Fit Bank, which are earned through game play. Wii Fit™ also encourages a level of competitiveness, by allowing players to compare their personal fitness through the Wii’s built in online system.
To begin with, a player in Wii Fit™ creates a Mii™, which is an avatar that will be integrated into the game. The player then stands on the Balance Board to have their BMI calculated, and it is displayed and ranked so that the system has an idea where the player fits on their scale. Next, a number of basic balancing exercises helps the Wii Fit™ determine the player’s Wii Fit™ age, which will scale various activities and determine some play aspects.
From there, the player can choose from four main categories of activities. These are: yoga, aerobics, strength training, and balance games. Yoga activities focus on both flexibility and balance, with balance poses and stretching games. Aerobics activities work on getting the heart rate up a bit, and building cardiovascular health. Strength training exercises primarily help to tone overall muscle. And the balance games are built mostly to be fun diversions, as well as to help hone balance skills.
None of the activities are designed to be particularly exerting, as the focus is more on building tone and a strong core than working the body to exhaustion or building muscle mass. Still, a long Wii Fit™ workout at higher levels of play can provide a surprisingly difficult workout, even for those who are quite in shape. As levels are completed with a 100% score, more difficult versions of the same activity are unlocked for the players to continue to push themselves.
The Wii Fit™ received a great deal of press when it was first released, as many people heralded it as the dawn of a new type of video game. Although some other rhythm games had been used to a limited extent to get people, especially school children, to engage in physical activity, Wii Fit™ represented the first time a game had been designed around this purpose. Many schools have since begun using Wii Fit™ in their physical education programs, and a number of studies have tracked how well it works at getting people more in shape. The general consensus appears to be that with regular play, Wii Fit™ can in fact make a substantial difference to overall fitness.