A reader suggests playing games like Pokémon Go and Ring Fit Adventure can help keep you fit and help recover from a gluttonous Christmas.
It’s resolution season, and once again, for as long as I can remember, I’ve pledged to become a smarter, fitter, leaner, stronger, wealthier, funnier, and an all-round more appealing/dashingly handsome human being. While I have achieved some success, I have significantly more failures.
Through active video games (AVGs) like Pokémon Go and Ring Fit Adventure I would like you, dear readers, to learn from my successes and failures in the getting fitter, leaner, and stronger aspect of my resolution history.
AVGs offer an incredible, almost utopian promise: you can get fit and play video games at the same time. This is the dream for me, an ideal bridging of two of my favourite aspects of modern culture. Sadly, this logic is not shared across society, something I call the Active Video Game Paradox: I can play games and get fit, two things I love/want/need, but don’t, for some reason…
I wondered why this paradox existed. Ultimately, I think it boils down to the positioning of AVGs, which is as much a curse as it is a gift. You see, in my head, I’m thinking two things:
1. Are AVGs equally/more effective at health promotion and fitness development than sport/exercise?
2. Are AVGs equally/more entertaining, immersive, relaxing, and awesome (plus many, many more adjectives) than traditional, non-active video games?
The answer really needs to be a resounding yes for both, for a rational person to commit lots of time to AVGs. I call this positioning problem The Battle for Attention.
For health and fitness: AVGs like Pokémon Go are an engaging way to increase/maintain a healthy step count. Walking may be great at achieving cardio targets at an introductory fitness level, but there will come a time (a great time of developed fitness) when walking is not enough, although still useful, and different methods will be needed to achieve further progress/benefits. A good step count alone is not all it takes to achieve thriving health and fitness.
Another side of health and fitness, coming recommended at two times a week by the Chief Medical Officer, is muscle-strengthening exercise. This is important for developing muscle strength and bone density, which is awesome for quality of life, health, and longevity. This is where Pokémon Go fails and Ring Fit Adventure steps in with colourful visuals, a classically Nintendo storyline, and social hilarity to boot.
This game is your crash course to the main movement patterns that are useful for everyday living. As before, this is useful up to the point of adaptation, where it stops becoming muscle-strengthening exercise and starts becoming movement maintenance/energy burning. Useful, but eventually not enough to keep you moving forward on your journey to excellent health and fitness.
For AVG engagement there are some standout performers: Just Dance, Beat Saber (deep love), Pokémon Go, and Ring Fit Adventure. All exceptions to the rule, outliers. Ultimately though, non-active games have, on average, more fans/players, less risk attached to investors, bigger budgets, better community infrastructures, and, personally, significantly more engagement across the board.
I remain optimistic that a new experience will be built (maybe even by me…) that has the incredibly gratifying benefits of games and fitness, without compromising on the overall experience of either. Until then, if you’re new to fitness this year, let AVGs such as Pokémon Go and Ring Fit Adventure be your spirit guide, preparing you for an incredibly gratifying existence as a long term benefactor of sport and exercise. When you’re ready.
By reader Sam Peter Kirk
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Read more: metro.co.uk