Younger gamers looking to con a Wii out of parents this year by selling them on the physical benefits of "active" gaming, it's time to dream up a new strategy. A UK study entitled "Energy expenditure in adolescents playing new generation computer games" reveals that a round of Wii Sports doesn't work the body nearly as hard as proper exercise. While it expends more energy than "idle" gaming with a controller, the difference is negligible.
Eleven physically-fit teenagers, ages 13 to 15, were selected for the study. After measuring expended energy in a resting state using five sensors placed around the body, the participants played 15 minutes of Project Gotham Racing 3, followed by rounds of Wii Sports boxing, tennis, and bowlingfor 15 minutes each. Though there was a marked difference in expended energy between rest and PGR3, Wii Sports definitely has a lead on the racer in physical activity.But not by much:
Project Gotham Racing 3: 125.5 kJ/kg/minWii Sports bowling: 190.6 kJ/kg/minWii Sports boxing: 198.1 kJ/kg/minWii Sports tennis: 202.5 kJ/kg/min
The study concludes that the physical activity "was not of high enough intensity to contribute towards the recommended daily amount of exercise in children… In a typical week, active gaming rather than passive gaming would increase total energy expenditure by less than 2 percent."
Wii Sports is hardly representative of "active games" as a whole (no DDR? No Rock Band drumming?), but it's likely the most widely-played game among them. In an experiment to see if other games could lead to weight loss, Ars Technica's Gaming Editor Ben Kuchera was able to lose twenty pounds in two months with a combination of fitness games and an improved diet. There are certainly games out there that burn more calories than sitting on the couch with a controller, but unfortunately Wii Sports is not one of them.
Curiously, the study was funded by Cake, Nintendo's UK marketing arm—and probably didn't producethe results the company was hoping for. Of course, this is unlikely tohave muchimpact upon the Wii's tight availability.