May 28, 2009

‘Exergaming’ Gains Popularity During Recession

As the recession is causing many Americans to opt out of expensive gym memberships and personal trainers, the video game industry appears to be seeing an opportunity to cash in with a variety of new games aimed at helping people get in shape.

The campaign by video game companies to add exercise to entertainment will be emphasized during next week's E3 Expo in Los Angeles.

Electronic Arts has a new game called "EA Sports Active" on Nintendo Wii. The game comes with a resistance band and a leg strap that gamers can use during a series of virtual exercises.

"With today's economy, people can't always afford gym memberships and personal trainers," said Alison Sweeney, host of NBC's "Biggest Loser" reality TV series.

"EA calls this game a "trainer in a box" and it really is. The game teaches you the right way to work out."

Since the release of Nintendo's "Wii Fit" last year, the game has been at the top of sales charts, and the "exergaming" genre has been gaining traction among gamers.

Activision's "Tony Hawk: Ride" for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 allows gamers to use a motion-sensor skateboard controller to do virtual tricks.

"I'm excited for everyone to have the chance to feel what it's really like to experience the true feeling of skateboarding," said Hawk in a statement.

Konami Digital Entertainment's "Dance Dance Revolution" has sold more than 11 million copies since it began in 2001.

"Aside from the "Dance Dance Revolution" games, there have only been a handful of fitness games and, until the "Wii Fit" launched, none was particularly successful," Michael Pachter, videogame analyst, Wedbush Morgan Securities, told Reuters.

Pachter expects high popularity for "EA Sports Active" as well as "Daisy Fuentes' Pilates" from Sega.


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