While doing some research to write an article, I came across the term “exergaming” and I had no idea what I meant. Thanks to Wikipedia, now I know that exergames are video games that allow you to exercise while you play them and most of them require pedometers, camera sensors and other peripherals that track body movement in some form. Interestingly, there have been games to exercise since the 1980s and these titles have promoted a more active lifestyle. In the past few decade or so there has been a resurgence in the sub-genre thanks to smartphones and peripherals such as Kinect and this also attracted an audience that hadn’t play many video games before.
Zombies, Run! (iOS, Android, Windows Phone)
Zombies, Run! is a running game for iOS, Android and Windows Phone that started as a Kickstarter campaign. In the game, you assume the role of Runner 5 and you try to survive a zombie apocalypse by completing a series of missions, collecting items and listening to several recordings. If you think about it, the mobile game tricks you into exercising, but the compelling narrative, radio quality of the audio and base-building features will attract experienced and novice runners alike.
Ingress (Android, iOS)
This location-based, augmented reality video game was the precursor to Pokemon GO and while the latter became a phenomenon that’s difficult to compare, Ingress had a fantastic premise that was incredibly novel back in 2013. In Ingress, you assume the role of a member of one of two factions (Enlightened and Resistance) and you capture portals in places of cultural significance (buildings, churches, monuments, landmarks and so on) and you link those portals to control fields. You can’t battle other players directly and the only form of competition is measured in points between the two factions.
Wii Fit (Nintendo Wii)
Although a lot of Nintendo Wii owners completely ignored the Wii Balance Board, it’s easy to forget that the peripheral was extremely popular. Wii Fit was one of the games that used that peripheral and the title was the best-selling game not packaged with a console, with 22 million units sold. In Wii Fit, you complete a series of mini-games from different disciplines, such as yoga or aerobics. Different gyms, rehabilitation centers and gyms around the world adopted the game. If you’re interested in checking out more exercise games, there’s Wii Fit Plus for the Wii and Wii Fit U for the Wii U.
Dance Central (Xbox 360)
Back at the peak of popularity of rhythm games, Harmonix created Dance Central, a game were you perform the dance moves that are tracked by the Kinect sensor. The first game featured over 600 different dance moves and 90 dance routines. Link in Rock Band, the soundtrack features songs from several artists, such as Beastie Boys, No Doubt, Lady Gaga and Rihanna, among many others. There were two direct sequels to Dance Central.
EA Sports Active (Wii)
This interactive personal trainer uses the motion controls of the Wiimote and nunchuk to track your movements. The Wii Balance Board is also compatible, but you don’t need it to play the game. There are 20 minute workouts, 30-day challenges, unlockable trophies, the possibility of playing with a friend and other exercises with different goals. This game was so popular that there was a follow-up and an NFL-themed version.