Wednesday, September 3, 2008


I try not to officially endorse products, but I was at my brother's this past weekend, and played the Nintendo Wii, so I wanted to give a few comments on it from the perspective of a physician and biomechanist

Overall, I really liked it. I'll list my essentially random observations, just to give some semblance of organization:

1. It's fun. It's entertaining for both adults and young children.

2. It's a better way of doing video games. There has been a trend over the past decade to find new ways to make videogames interactive- for example, the many dance oriented games like Dance Dance Revolution and Guitar Hero. The Wii clearly takes things to a new level- the controller is innovative and worthy of the hype.

3. You can get a great sweat playing. After boxing, playing tennis, or hula hooping on the Wii, my shirt was drenched with sweat. You can get a legitimate workout, if that is your aim, from playing the Wii. My nephews, however, did find ways to move the controllers less aggressively, so I suppose over time the workout may not be as intense as it was for me using it the first time.

4. Good motivator for kids. One of the highlights for me was watching my brother use a boxing game. His youngest son mimicked his dad's movements, and was getting exercise himself. One trend that has been noted in much of the pediatric exercise research is the importance of kids watching their parents be active. We spent a few hours as a family exercising on the Wii, and I think that beyond being fun, it helps establish to the kids that exercise is something that you should do.

5. Real exercise is still preferred. We also took a hike as a family, and that was still a better form of exercise. The Wii is ideally an adjunct to other forms of exercise. If your kids are going to be playing video games, though, it's probably better to do it on the Wii, where they are active, than on other forms of video games.

6. The Wii Fit is pretty awesome. I enjoyed playing the balance, yoga, and exercise games that are part of the Wii fit. I found the additional feedback of the Wii Fit helpful for giving feedback on my balance and stability, and for the most part thought the exercises were well designed and fun. My biggest complaint is that the Wii Fit board is a bit narrow for larger framed individuals like my brother or myself.

7. The Mii are a nice touch. My nephews made an avatar for me (they are called Miis, and they called my avatar Garii). It's amazing how detailed they are- Garii looked disconcertingly like the real me, which was especially concerning when my nephew wacked me in the face when playing the boxing game. It also took a little joy out of beating my nephew in boxing, as Garii knocked out a Mii that looked just like my little nephew.

8. There is some translation from real skills. On games I've never played before, my nephews beat me pretty easily. But I was able to occasionally beat my nephews on some of the activities that I do in real life, like boxing, yoga, tennis, or baseball. If I get a Wii, I think I would probably play the tennis game quite often, since it's certainly easier to turn on the video game system than find a similarly skilled partner.

Overall, I really enjoyed the Wii. For adults in particular, I thought the Wii Fit was great, and could be a enjoyable way to work on balance and strength exercises.

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