Comment: Video Game Exercise Ratings

I can quit eating chili dogs any time I want.

While paging through my RSS reader, I came across this headline.

Why Videogames Need Exercise Ratings

The basic gist of the idea being: “Implementing such a system would go a long way toward helping families make informed decisions about gameplay.”  Sadly, it’s a dream that will fail to be realized.  The idea of using enthusiasm for gaming to fuel healthier lifestyles is a specious one tinged with the implication that guilt should be associated with sedentary gaming.  Nobody expects book publishers to lift a finger in the fight against the plague of fat children.  Stephanie Meyer makes a ton of cash off of making sure that people stay glued to pages and pages of sparkly vampires (ones which are only rivaled in their androgyny by the male cast of any given Final Fantasy or Castlevania.)  Game publishers aren’t anymore responsible for fat children than Stephanie Meyer, J.K. Rowling, Stephen King, or any one else that makes money trying to get you to sit still and focus on something for a protracted period of time.

The concept of exer-gaming isn’t new.  And the over-hyping motion technology does not constitute a revolution in gaming.  If anything, motion tech has only made games more shallow.  If there’s any revolution going on in video games, it is with free internet games like Farmville.  Wii Sports is what you play when you need a break from raising your internet chickens.

If the health of your child counts on video games, you’re doing it wrong.  Don’t give people the impression that video games can help you live healthier, or that they should help you live healthier either.  Video games are not “important for public health” and they have no obligation to nudge people into being more active.  Seriously, if people are so far gone in their ability to make decisions that they have to be tricked into being healthy, then we have far worse problems to deal with.

If game publishers want to do something for the public good then they should spend more time on accessibility in gaming and less on helping people who are perfectly healthy pretend to exercise.

You're getting fatter just looking at them. They're just as bad for you as cigarettes.

3 Responses to “Comment: Video Game Exercise Ratings”

  1. August 19, 2010 at 4:50 pm

    I think the only thing that would justifiably work as an exercise game would be something based on a mobile and done in the real world, either through some kind of augmented reality interface or maybe something else location based. Then you’d be walking and running around doing stuff. It sucks to work out inside your house–that’s why people buy Nordic-tracks and never use them.

    As an example for what I’m talking about, consider

  2. 3 Peter Shafer
    August 20, 2010 at 3:03 am

    I think you’re right about emerging tech that takes gaming outdoors. That does show a lot of potential, especially with embedded computers becoming so inexpensive. I’m really excited to see what develops in the area of augmented reality.


    The Nordic-track comment actually sounds a lot like how people end up treating the Wii. It’s fun for a while, but eventually it is relegated to keeping the home gym company. That’s sadly what has happened to mine (minus the home gym part). I want to play games for it, but more often than not Wii games are just the same thing over and over and over again.

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