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The Reality of a Fitness MMO

Posted Wed, Feb 12, 2014 by Xerin

WiiFit

Fitness is important to me in a lot of ways and one thing I do not believe in is the fitness video games. The majority of the reasons why is that stationary cardio is tough. It’s really, really tough to do. Why is it tough to do? Because it’s boring, limited, and you’re restrained in the workouts that you do.

The Wii Fit is a good example of stationary workouts gone bad. It’s a scale that doubles as a small step-up board that doesn’t really enable you to do much but watch simple body weight exercises for you to do on the T.V. as you attempt to emulate it. Following that is the series of Kinect workout programs that have you running in place like the WiiFit but add in dancing with the camera.

Go, do it right now, run in place. See how long you can do it for. Well, that brings on today’s topic: fitness MMOs. How do these two correlate? Well, they really don’t. Because there is no way to make a fitness MMO. Imagine getting points for running in place… it’s impossible, no one would do it. There would be very few people excited about running in place.

However, there may be something in the near future that could change that and we might actually see real fitness MMOs. Two pieces of technology can change that, to some extent. The first is the Kinect and the other is the Oculus Rift.

Now, the most “out there” idea is that the Kinect could be used for a bodybuilding MMO (or online game) where it records your form as you lift. It’ll be a lot harder and this is a really silly idea, but you could for all intention workout and produce an avatar in some virtual world. Imagine, if you will, a virtual gym. I’m actually going to stop myself here before I get too Snowcrash.

Treadmill

Something more realistic is the possibility that we might be able to get some actual track and field MMOs going with the Oculus Rift. A lot of crazy insane concept 360 degree treadmills (omnidirectional) are currently being developed. With these treadmills you could, in theory, run in place on the treadmill and have your motions recorded in a virtual world.

This would let you and others virtually move around, making say a virtual reality track a… well reality. This could help spur the idea that gaming and fitness can actually work together, because you could actually race against friends or other A.I.s in an actual track. The only issue is incline, something developers will have to work hard on figuring out.

See, with a treadmill, the incline is what adds resistance and a bit of “real life scenario” to your run. If you’ve ever run a treadmill you know about the burn you get from increasing the incline. The tactile feel of walking sort of requires that, because if we see steps in front of us, we’re going to want to raise our leg and climb. If we see a hill, we’ll adopt how we walk. This is why if you’re walking around and get lost in texting and you’ll fall if the terrain isn’t continuous or blocked by your phone.

Anyway, fitness is super duper important and not everyone has to become some super insane brofessor of fitness to be good at it, but it’s also easy to let “fun” and “fitness” influence purchasing decisions. Yet, as technology advances, there may very well be chances for us, as a society, to start moving into virtual reality fitness where we can race against people across the world or do jumping jacks with your wife across the country while on a trip. The technology just has to mature.

I do hope, though, within 10 years we can see the first true fitness MMOs and start bringing the awesome reality of MMO gaming to something that the world needs more of - focus on a healthy body and mind.

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