May 052010

Adios, couch potatos!

Each generation of game consoles has a defining trait, and for this generation that trait is, without a doubt, motion control. Everything from a flick of the wrist to a gyration of the hips is used as a means of control in tons Wii games, and even in a few games on the PS3. Since the Wii launched in 2006 many video game players have been left wondering exactly what lead Nintendo to this particular innovation. Some say it is the first step in making home gaming a more immersive experience, but I think it is Nintendo’s attempt to cure the plague of couch potatoisim.

Years ago, Nintendo began testing our tolerance for motion controls with GameBoy Advance titles like WarioWare: Twisted and Yoshi’s Topsy Turvy. For the first time, players were asked to disregard the buttons on their handhelds and move the actual system around to control the games. These games were simple, and likely were designed to get our minds into the right gear for the Wii’s release. What players didn’t realize at the time is that these simple tilts and twists would evolve into control schemes that would come with a recommendation to uproot yourself and leave the couch behind for a change.

The cartridge for WarioWare: Twisted

Unfortunately, Nintendo’s benevolent attempt at creating a healthier and more active sect of gamers has been somewhat spoiled by the cheating taters out there. Rather than get up, move the coffee table, and put on a twinkle toes bowling performance á la Fred Flintstone, many players found it was easier and just as satisfying to cheat the system. For example, bowling in its various incarnations on the Wii is easily accomplished from a seated position, as are the many other games whose real-life counterparts would be played in a standing position. These types of players may not necessarily be the ones in the most dire need of Nintendo’s “cure”, but just the type of people who like to relax and play a game while they’re sitting. Is there anything really wrong with that?

Fig. 1: Things you could be doing if you weren't so interested in sitting down and playing games.

Over the course of an average day, it is unlikely that a die-hard couch potato gamer spends any more time on their rump than someone who works 40 hours a week in an office, or a full-time student who spends most of their days in a lecture hall and doing homework. In a recent scientific study conducted by RoboAwesome it was proven that playing a video game for an hour requires more brain power than watching an episode of “Dancing with the Stars”, which actually decreases brain activity to levels like those that are found in coma patients. So in a nutshell, it is far better that gaming spuds be planted on the couch than up and about, plotting meanness against senior citizens.

In a generation that is likely to be defined by motion controls, it is important for us to know where we stand with the company who brought them to the table. Did Nintendo do it to get us into our games more, or because they see us as a bunch of lazy fatties? If Nintendo made this important change in the way game players, game makers, and the makers of competing consoles think of controls in order to bring us a more immersive gaming experience, then that’s great. However, if the innovation was crafted solely as an attack on the sedentary lifestyle of me and countless others, then I have this to say to Nintendo: you can keep your motion controls, and I’ll keep my couch cushion. It took a long time to get it perfectly molded to the shape of my butt.

*Okay, okay. There was no study. I made that up.

  2 Responses to “Nintendo's "Cure" For Couch Potatoism”

  1. For real man – those couch cushions don’t dent themselves.

  2. Thanks for the insightful post about this issue – a lot of the things you have mentioned I was never aware of before.

 Leave a Reply

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>