Everyone seems to be sharing their WiiFit stories. So, I figured I'd contribute one of my own.
It all began last summer, when I was trying to design a fighting engine that would allow for the player to use their whole body to simulate actual martial art moves like the ones found in Avatar: The Last Air Bender. I figured that the motion controls in the Wiimotes could handle the arms and upper body movements, but I could never find an adequate way to translate the motions of the feet, lower body, and balance through Wiimotes. I didn't want to resort to tying Wiimotes to my feet. Little did I know that my design thoughts were on the same train of thought that lead to the creation of the now famous Wii Balance Board.
The moment my eyes saw WiiFit being unveiled by Miyamoto during the E3 of last summer, everything fell into place. WiiFit, more specifically the Wii Balance Board, fills in the design gap concerning full body motion controls. Once again, Nintendo had created a device that filled a unique design space helping them continue to pioneer and innovate. If you thought the Wiimote was radical with less buttons than ever and a one handed design, then the no-buttons, no handed Wii Balance Board is radical to the next level.
Over the course of the next year, I continued to design my Avatar game and much more. Designing with the whole body as a controller opens up more possibilities for unique and intuitive game design than shoulder buttons, and analog sticks ever did. And in December when WiiFit launched in Japan, and I found myself tracking the launch in detail, I realized that WiiFit was one of my most anticipated games. Good thing Brawl was there to distract me until summer.
To make a long story even shorter, I brought WiiFit home yesterday. Between everyone in my family, we put in 5+ hours on it. All of Nintendo's goofy promises hold up in my case. With Wii Sports my dad played more than I did, and he even beat all of my scores in Bowling and Golf (his best game was a -5 on 9 holes). Just like Miyamoto said, WiiFit makes you more aware of your body and the physical condition of others giving people a way to share, compete, and encourage each other to get and stay healthy.
The whole game, if you can call it that, is fun and delightful. When booting it up for the first time, I got the sense that I was in movie placed in the future where families have interactive and highly portable exercise machines complete with digital training companions. It's a a bit surreal every time the game tells me I'm a bit wobbly. I find myself saying "how do YOU know!?" even though I know the exact technology behind the Wii Balance Board.
There are some games that we just play and then put away or sell back to gamestop. But games like WiiFit can't be tossed around so casually. Such a game transforms the player in a significant and real way. There's something about actually doing it; actually putting your mind and body to a task that has been almost entirely removed from videogames. Doing a real push up to push up. Jogging in place to jog in the game. I want to capture both of these ideas in my next mini project.
Using the bluetooth adapter I purchased earlier in the year, I have successfully connected the Wii Balance Board to my PC, and have started programming a little something that will hopefully transform the player, giving him/her a new level of awareness about their bodies and themselves, while delivering a narrative/story element in a new way.
I should have a download for the project by Monday. Stay tuned for details. In the meantime, go get your feet on WiiFit. It fits perfectly into my life.