As we outsource more and more of our lives to the digital world, video games that get us off the couch and into the action have started to go mainstream in a big way.
First the Nintendo Wii had us waving our arms around madly, and then, in 2010, Sony unveiled the PlayStation Move and Microsoft introduced its motion sensing Kinect system for Xbox.
“Exergames”—yes, fitness video games now fall into their own hybrid category—have come a long way since the days of the Power Pad, and have since proved to be a highly effective way to introduce physical activity into what was once considered the most sedentary of hobbies.
They have been found to improve hand-eye coordination, balance, stability and cardio. A recent study in The Journal of Pediatrics recommends using exergames to improve children’s health, and at least one popular game, Dance Dance Revolution, is becoming a regular part of physical education programs around the country.
But savvy video game makers know that exergames aren’t just fun for kids. Games like Zumba Fitness and UFC Personal Trainer attempt to make working out more engaging and accessible to a wide range of people. Tie-ins like The Biggest Loser Challenge bring celebrity trainers into your living room: imagine having Jillian Michaels on hand to whip you into shape.
Exergames don’t have to be virtual gyms to get your heart pumping. Cardio is almost a byproduct of Kinect Adventures, for example; and when you play any number of sports games you’ll find yourself simulating the actual thing—at least well enough to break a sweat.
With new games coming out every year for the Wii, Xbox Kinect and PlayStation Move, we decided to sort through some of the best—recent classics and new and state of the art—to pick 12 games that are sure to get you moving.