Exergaming & The River Gym


When exercise, gaming and clean energy generation come together

GAMERS are subjected to a cruel stereo­type that we all live in our parents’ basement and are rendered lifeless if exposed to direct sunlight. While most games are not physically demanding, there is a growing market for exercise gaming — known more commonly as “exergaming”.

Just DanceThe Playstation and Wii are at the forefront of exercise gaming — having released several titles and peripherals that encourage gamers to get a good cardiovascular workout. Many also offer calorie counters, which let you know exactly what you’re burning while you play.

Exergaming relies on technology that tracks body movement or reaction. Exergames are seen as evolving from technology changes aimed at making video games more fun and healthy at the same time.

After the huge success of titles such as Just Dance and Wii Sports Resort, the growing market and appeal of exercise gaming has spawned a whole army of peripherals and new game genres – enough to start your own interactive gym.

Many Wii games feature some sort of motion sensor controls, which read and track your movements as you play. There are now even horror-action titles, such as Silent Hill Shattered Memories that require players to swim, fend off attackers and move objects with wild flailing movements.

Motion sensor technology combined with gaming has become a hot topic over the last few years and got hotter with the announcement that both the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 would be joining the Nintendo Wii in offering “motion” gaming. The implementation of these features will enable both these popular platforms to offer titles in the new “gaming as exercise” trend.

The Wii Fit is certainly a winner which helped to pioneer the gaming as exercise trend. It has not only sold over 20 million copies to date, but has taken things further by offering extra exercise gaming peripherals.

In 2009 the Wii CyberBike was released — the first video game to be bundled with a full-sized exercise bike. The visual stimulation coupled with the Cyberbike may see you clearing roads of pollution and traversing by land, sea and air over 18 different circuits.

This may not be for everyone, but then again neither is the gym. If you plan on buying an exercise bike anyway and like the sound of the additional gaming incentive, then the Cyberbike may be a good, modern choice.

If simple exercise isn’t enough to get your heart pounding, there are emerging possibilities of having the energy you expend by exergaming captured and put to good use. It is already possible to power a Playstation and small home appliances with exercise, but this tends to be an archetypal “hamster in a wheel” approach.

The River Gym

The River Gym

"The River Gym is one of the more innovative concepts to break water in recent times and looks to cash in on our desire to exercise to stay fit and healthy by capturing the energy we expend when burning calories" (image: http://www.gizmag.com)

The River Gym, off the Hudson and East Rivers in New York, is a floating vessel of fitness that harnesses renewable energy from burnt-off calories. The plan is to have River Gym “pods” that would offer a range of exercise equipment capable of converting energy derived from human motion into usable electric energy stored in on-board batteries.

“The vessels would be fitted with water purification devices to combat pollution and would also be capable of carrying additional passengers and commuters, thereby easing the burden of ferry lines as well as varying the intensity of the exercise” — www.gizmag.com

The River Gym also promises “the obvious benefits of exercise and eco-credentials” along with spectacular panoramic views of New York – an experience that “far surpasses the bland tedium of a conventional gymnasium”.

Of course, it would only be fair that membership for a River Gym would be free considering that users would be creating vast amounts of usable energy by breaking a sweat. Perhaps some free, on-board entertainment sponsored by Nintendo is in order?