Active video games no longer incite mental stimulation
October 5, 2010 6:55 PM
Will the real video game enthusiast please stand up?
And while you're at it, will you stand in front of your television and wave your arms around like a complete idiot while dancing to a techno-infused yoga game?
Sony will soon release the Playstation Move, a motion-based controller system for the Playstation 3 console that works similarly to the Nintendo Wii. Even Microsoft jumped on the bandwagon with the controller-less Kinect for Xbox 360.
Whatever happened to the days when games captured our imagination with character-driven storytelling, imaginative puzzles and tactical button combinations? Traditionally, video games have always been about mental, not physical, stimulation.
As a child, getting lost in the levels of Sonic the Hedgehog or Mario Brothers was captivating because of the intuition and persistence required in order to get to the next level, not because there was any sort of physical endurance test.
The games that come out for new systems seem played out.
Once the novelty of the motion-sensitive gaming experience wears off, there's nothing of substance left underneath the mediocre graphics and annoying music.
But people are still eating it up. Sony sold 60,000 units of Move in the U.S. alone.
In 2008, the American Council of Exercise conducted a study on the fitness benefits of the Nintendo Wii, and concluded that movement-based games burn more calories than sedentary ones. This same year the Wii Fit, a game entirely based on helping the player burn calories and lose weight, came out.
It's as if this new wave of motion-based gaming has persuaded people to neglect actual exercise. Who would go to a miniature golf course to improve their actual golf game or play Guitar Hero to improve real-life picking skills? Gaming should not be about how many calories you burn, or how closely it can mimic real life, but rather about how far the brain can be pushed and still have the player immersed in story and puzzle.
We need to take a step back and look at the games that really matter to us. Why do titles such as Resident Evil, Call of Duty and Assassin's Creed keep getting top billing and honored as "game of the year" by publications like GamePro, and not games like Wii Sports?
These games have nothing to do with physically moving around to advance in the game. Instead, they focus on an epic storyline combined with groundbreaking puzzles and brain teasers to get players involved.
Simply put, there's a formula that has worked in video games for decades and it doesn't involve pilates.
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