This conference has been such a strange experience for me. At E3, everybody is eagerly playing the games on the show floor. There’s a palpable eagerness to see what’s new (though, of course, “what’s new” is rarely all that new.) I guess that somehow I was expecting to see the same sort of thing here… fitness professionals eagerly trying out new equipment, sweating up a storm, etc.
Mmm… not so much. The floor has rarely buzzed with activity. This is possibly because much of the equipment on display doesn’t seem all that terribly different from equipment that I saw in gyms ten years ago. And, in general, attendees seem more excited about going for a run outside (the weather here is amazing!) than checking out the latest, greatest weight machines. I’m even starting to miss the obnoxiously loud music at E3. ;-)
Anyway, back to games (or, more specifically, exertainment). There are surprisingly few companies showing off game fitness products. Cateye has some spiffy DDR pads on display, as well as the latest version of their GameBike (the picture on the right is me trying it out.) The GameBike only supports racing games, which makes sense since it relies on the PS2 for content, and our studies have shown that most other commercial console titles are simply too complex for use in an exercise environment. People can’t handle both the game and the peddling.
I’ve always felt that custom-designed casual games are the better option — more variety, more control over the exercise experience, broader demographic appeal, etc. However, I have to admit that it was fun racing around on the bike! Time will tell if significant numbers of gym-goers will tolerate nothing but racing games over long periods of time. (This model is being adopted by several startups in the exertainment space, not just Cateye).