Worried that your little kid is permanently at his playstation or PC, racing against uncouth characters in Carmageddon, or souping up his car and loitering around town (on his screen, of course) in NFS Underground, all the while sitting on his couch? Do visions of a glassy-eyed, fat-assed boy in the house ruin your sleep? On the other hand, are You the fat-assed boy,
forever at his PlayStation? Then there is good news for you : Good times are coming.
At the recently concluded Consumer Electronics Show, PC game entrepreneurs demonstrated a whole host of new products targetted exactly at the couch-potato video game maniac. The new lot of computer-based games will marry entertainment, technology and fitness to to create a bunch of products variously called as exertainment or exergaming machines.
Bullish exertainment or exergaming afficianados claim that exertainment machines might help reduce America's obesity epidemic. And keep you fit, to boot.
Tucked into a little corner of the consumer electronics show was the first-ever "Cardio PlayZone" - a space for game-machine companies focusing on the theme of fitness.
On the whole, there were six exhibitors whose reportoire of exergaming machines included
workout equipment using which you race cars and sensor-equipped dance floors.
The Kilowatt SPORT from Powergrid Fitness Inc offered extertainment via a contraption that at look, resembled a high-tech ski machine, but actually allowed you to race cars on a video screen, while balancing yourself on it. A half hour stint on this exertainment machine would have you using muscles you never knew you had, and sweating profusely. You have to move the hand controls while standing up straight on this machine, while the cars you control race away on a plasma screen in front of you. The exertainment racing machine costs around $800.
But the exergaming companies are interested in something else - they want to make you feel that all you did was playing just another video game, not that you just had an 'exertainment' experience. In other words, good exertainment should not feel like any exercise at all, and that you had just another stint on a video game.
Konami Digital Entertainment offers a digital dance floor. Okay, this is not a video game. What you do is dance. However, your footwork is supposed to follow the blinking lights on the digital dance floor, and a short dance can make you break out in a sweat. All without a companion to dance with! That's exertainment for you. Advanced levels on this game require great footwork skills, and the machine can even calculate the calories burned based your height and weight.
So folks, the days of passive video gaming are over. Extertainment is here, and the best part is - its entertaining and can get you fit, and you can get as obsessed by it as you can get by a regular computer game.