Obesity is an astronomical epidemic in America. About 34% of adults in America and 15-20% of children are obese. Obesity is costly. Not only for those who are obese but for society at large. In fact, obesity costs society and individual Americans $190 billion dollars a year. There are really only two ways to combat obesity and they both have to do with lifestyle choices. Exercise and diet changes are difficult. The search for a way to make either one easier, tastier, or more entertaining is eternal. Game consoles have tried for 20 years or more to get gamers up and active. From the game Stadium Events for NES to the WiFit, we failed utterly…until virtual reality came along. Gamers report losing up to 50 pounds playing VR games. But what games are these guys playing? Today we’re going to examine five games pretty much designed to help you lose weight.
If you ever played Dance Dance Revolution either at an arcade or in your living room, you’ll be familiar with this game format. Soundboxing is essentially DDR in VR without all that jumping around and breaking the floor joists. You upload your favorite songs into the program, it creates randomly generated boxing patterns based on the beat, and off you go punching your way to Nirvana. What makes you move and lose weight is the placement of the orbs coming at you. In one instance, you’re scooping down at the floor and in another, you’re jabbing the sky. You’ll be doing squats without thinking about it. You get to pick the environment you’re working out in. You could be dancing in an arid desert landscape or on an alien world. You can play Soundboxing on either the HTC Vive or the Oculus Rift.
When the Oculus Rift and the HTC Vive came along, every Star Wars geek imagined getting to actually hold and use a lightsaber. We got a small taste of that in the ILMxLAB’s Trials on Tatooine. But we’ve not really been able to handle a lightsaber like Qui-Gon on Naboo. Until now. If you’re a Star Wars geek and you want to lose some weight, BeatSaber is the game for you. We’re again looking at a DDR-like game. Blocks launch at you down a corridor of laser light. Each block represents a beat in the song. Your job is to slice each block in half before it smashes into you. And you’re supposed to slice in time with the music. It might seem like a game that would get repetitive and old, but the challenge levels up as you play. And the gameplay becomes more complicated. You’ll spend hours slicing at blocks and sweating. You won’t even realize you’re burning calories.
3. Echo Arena
If you ever wanted to be an astronaut because you thought it would be cool to hang out in zero gravity, well, this is probably the closest you’ll get. Echo Arena is the multiplayer mode for the VR story game Lone Echo. You inhabit the body of a robot and, yes, you get to fling yourself around in a zero-gravity environment. This might not sound like a game that could help you lose weight, but wait, there’s more! Echo Arena is essentially ultimate frisbee in space. It’s a three-on-three arena-style game where your ultimate priority is to fling a disc into a diamond-shaped goal.
The movement controls are one-one meaning if you grab an object and pull on it, you move in the direction you’ve pulled yourself. You can take advantage of thrusters on your wrists as well as a booster pack on your back. Echo Arena is a “full-contact” sport. If you punch a robot (another player, there are no NPCs) in the game, they malfunction for a few seconds. They drop anything they were holding and can’t move. The game is insanely fast-paced. You’re dipping, dodging, spinning, and flinging your arms about in a constant battle. Just be sure to clear enough space in your house and remove any precious objects. Players have been known to punch tv screens, unsuspecting spouses, and have even broken limbs.
It’s been a long time since Pong became the first video game. For generations, we’ve dreamed of becoming the paddle. Or maybe not. But for those who have, here’s your chance. Well, sorta. Sparc is more like zero-gravity tennis. But the way the ball moves is totally reminiscent of Pong. This is a two player game but includes some single-player challenges and training modes. Since it’s zero gravity, it’s much faster than traditional tennis. You need some quick reflexes to bat that ball and bring your opponent to their knees.
5. Sprint Vector
Sprint Vector wins for most unique movement system in virtual reality. It’s a racing game that involves futuristic inline skates. To move, you swing your arms as if you’re an Olympic cross-country skier. Seriously, this is exactly what the movement feels like. The harder you swing, the faster you go. Professional athletes report sweating in this game. This isn’t your typical skating track either. You leap over chasms, avoid toxic waste, and throw exploding plasma balls at your opponents. You can play multiplayer or against the machine. And there are enough levels to keep you occupied for months. Just be sure to put the controller strap around your wrist. Sweaty hands make it a lot harder to grip that controller.