I'm not going to lie, the Wii has never been my favourite console. There's still a gremlin-shaped part of me somewhere that cannot quite forgive Nintendo for just how lazy it has become since the Wii's release as, on a certain level, the Wii has proved that a well presented gimmick will sell much better than a lovingly crafted game, Super Mario Galaxy and Twilight Princess excepted. I don't want to go and open the enormous can of worms that the 'Who is a gamer?' question quite clearly signposts, but what I will do is highlight the fact that the Wii is no longer simply a media entertainment system. It's something much bigger than that, and it has a greater purpose: It's the saviour of bread.
Let me qualify that: a few years back everyone went a little bit crazy about a diet that essentially told people that bread was bad. Atkins promised weight loss, but it came at a price. Too high a price for many. But now you can lose drastic amounts of weight from the comfort of your own living room, and you can still munch on a baguette while you do it. Probably.
I am, of course referring to Wii Fit, the Nintendo equivalent of a z-list celebrity aerobics video.
I can hear you scoffing already, with derision as opposed to cupcakes, and I must confess that I too eyed the thing with high suspicion. However, leafing through the abandoned copy of News of the World I found on a train the other day, I was hit by this headline: I'M A Wii BIT THINNER: Mum goes from 18st to 10st using Nintendo's keep-fit console.
Essentially, size-22 mum-of-two Lara decided enough was enough, ditched her 4000+ a day calorie habit and started getting up early each day to put in an hour on the Balance Board very morning in conjunction with a new diet. A year later, she's slimmed down to a size 10 thanks to Miyamoto and Co. and is flaunting her newfound figure by enrolling herself and her sprog on the upcoming BBC 3 documentary I'm Hotter Than My Daughter.
Now, ignoring the poor predicament of the humiliated daughter for a moment, and I realise that the News of the World is not exactly a prime example of a reliable source, it does seem that many are being swayed and that the merits of using Wii Fit as a supplemental exercise programme are becoming harder and harder to argue against. Plus, it's a positive game-related story. Instead of ruining society, something that came out of our beloved industry seems to be life-affirming and a Good Thing, which makes a nice change.
It's already the second biggest selling game of all time, after Wii Play, I have female friends who extol its merits each and every day and sing the Wii's praises for making fitness fun. Personally, I'm a gym addict, mainly because I find that there are a million distractions that prevent me for working out at home, and plus I find it quite difficult to walk into a gym and walk straight out again as once I'm there I feel I have an obligation to use it. You get the slight shake of the head from the receptionist and then have to do the walk of shame. It's an unhealthy healthy relationship.
But many people hate the gym, from the smell to the two staples of Gym People: The Meathead, who does about 5 mins of free weights before walking around the gym floor for half an hour incredibly slowly whilst tensing, and The Gym Bunny, who spends half an hour in the ladies making sure she looks the part before doing 10 minutes of cardio and stretching a bit. For those who detest the gym, who don't have the time to go out of their way every day to get to a room of sweaty people, or who simply prefer their own showers, Wii Fit has been a bit of a godsend.
But while the newspaper article spends most of its time painting a vivid picture of a life or death issue saved by one woman's willpower and less cake, my concern is what the Wii Fit means for the future of console design. With Sony and Microsoft locking horns together over the right to crown themselves true masters of all media (a battle I feel Sony is winning at the moment), the Wii has rather widened the battlefield. This isn't just home entertainment any more.
It doesn't stop with weight loss either. The Finns recently requisitioned several hundred Wii consoles bundled with Wii Sports and Wii Fit for military training camps to boost morale and encourage soldiers to exercise more in their spare time. Wii Fit has been used to help rehabilitate physiotherapy patients, not to mention in nursing homes, where Balance Boards have been found helping provide gentle exercise for residents.
With Natal and the Eye Toy on the horizon, does motion sensor technology herald a revamp for fitness programmes across the world? How long before instead of popping down the local gym for a fitness class, you can join the class online? How long before digital fitness studios? Downloadable content makes for a whole host of possibilities in the end, with interactive fitness suites surely on the way. Fancy a bit of Tai Chi or karate? Just spend a few Wii Points or splash out on the PSN and Xbox Live and in minutes you could have a course that not only would be able to teach you via video, but correct you if you're doing things wrong and maybe even provide a decent digital sparring partner.
What do you guys think? Do any of you out there have a Wii Fit story to tell, did it work for you or did you come away disappointed? And what are your thoughts on what all this could mean in the near future. Hit us up in the box below, we'd love to hear what you have to say.