Good Advice: Don't Work Out Like A Progammer

Wise choices may make EA's Wii fitness sequel improve upon its predecessor. But the decision not to support MotionPlus makes the game prone to cheating — as, it seems programmers, like many who try to exercise, are wont to do.

I recently, briefly, tried the revised boxing game programmed into November's Wii sequel EA Sports Active More Workouts. And I was chided, kindly, by the EA trainer showing me the game.

He said I was throwing my punches like a programmer.

I wasn't jabbing and hooking, Wii Remote and Nunchuk in hands, with gusto. I was, I didn't realise, just making short moves.

Just this past spring, different EA representatives had trained me out of the bad habits of shortening my Wii-playing gestures. They did this while demoing the extra-sensitive modes of EA's latest tennis and Tiger Woods games. These modes proved how a Wii Remote enhanced with the Motion-Plus add-on, could detect the difference between a player who swung their arm fully and those who just flicked their wrist. The Wii Remote's acceleration sensors could be fooled by those two types of motion. But the position-detection in the MotionPlus could not. It could not be tricked. It would recognise a wrist-flick into a chip shot in Tiger and reserve big drives for full-arm swings.

What I learned in the spring I must have un-learned for the fall.

With no MotionPlus engaged for EA Sports Active More Workouts, I was back to my cheating ways. My punches were short. Can we say I was just trying not to hurt anyone at a public event? Apparently my EA-public-demo punching style is also the fighting style of EA programmers. Presumably this is not because they are lazy but because it is easier to test and replay a fitness game by taking a motion shortcut than by knocking oneself out throughout the day.

The new EA fitness game doesn't support the Wii add-on, but it does have a host of other features to distinguish it from its recent predecessor, June's EA Sports Active.

It includes a six-week workout program and a more interactive fitness calendar. It includes core/ab workouts, something the first game omitted. It has an overall count of 35 new exercises. Yoga-stretching has been added as well, by popular demand, EA claims — though it does cost them the talking point from the first game that EA Sports Active is the sweat-inducing Western complement to the gentler strain of Wii Fit's Eastern balance-based routine.

The new game has plenty to exercise the player who wants it. As proof, a public relations specialist working on the game answered Kotaku's challenge and demonstrated the game's new obstacle course mode. She ran (in place) until her avatar reached a lunge station. She lunged until she was prompted to run more. Then she hit another upper-body exercise. She finished, mildly winded.

There may well have been ways to cheat all the exercises I saw. But that's how it goes with games and fitness — users are pulled by the gravity to find shortcuts, be they cheat codes or less-than-complete sit-ups.

The lack of MotionPlus support may make it harder for users of the new game to resist temptations to cut their moves short and cheat, but as with the use of all fitness products, the user would just be cheating themselves. Oh, this is how it is for all kinds of fitness training, right? You need to want it.


Comments

    Needing/using a video game to help you work out is a joke. Most experienced trainers or professionals in sports science know that high intensity is required for an effective physical workout. Doing some lowest common denominator aerobics and lightweight static state cardio is the least effective way to get fit. Note that im not saying it doesnt work - it does, but is extremely ineffective if you are even mildly serious about improving fitness.

    These games are a great device for deluding people into thinking that they are getting fitter in a conveniently fun way. It is the same delusion that many guitar hero fans had when they though that because they could beat most songs on hard, that they were now able to play a real guitar.

    Some games however do this well, such as DDR machines/kits. But the wii fit variety is like solely relying on guitar hero practise to learn playing a real guitar - your time could be used *much* more effectively (and at a cheaper price).

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