There have been a number of historical attempts to bring exercise and video games together.
However, these have mostly required additional attachments and/or gimmicky peripherals in order to function.
But improved computer vision algorithms (plus the widespread availability of inexpensive cameras on laptops, televisions, and monitors) mean that it is now possible for the computer to monitor you and require certain exercises to be performed before some in-game actions can be taken.
This isn’t an entirely novel proposal—the “exercise bike / treadmill that makes your in-game character walk” is a staple of fitness-based modding.
The main difference here is that no equipment is required (except for a computer and camera). The user simply installs the game as usual and then is periodically requested to perform various types of exercise in order to advance in the game, which is then verified by the camera in order to discourage cheaters (Fig. 1).
(If we can trust the player not to cheat, then the camera would not actually be necessary.)
Fig 1: The all-seeing computer eye will require you to do various exercises in order to progress in the game. (This could also potentially use the technology behind the Microsoft Kinect .) The red outline here simulates the computer’s interpretation of the player’s outline. It isn’t melting the player with a red laser or anything, even though that is probably a better interpretation of this specific image.
There are a limited number of exercises that would fit the bill for a setup like this, but it should be possible to think of a wide enough range of options to satisfy any gamer.
Fig 2: Want to activate a “where to go next” marker for the mission that you can’t figure out? The computer will demand 20 jumping jacks before it forks over that information.
The exact amount of required exercise would be tailored to the fitness level of the game-player in question. It would generally be preferable to err on the side of “too easy” so as to avoid discouragement and/or heart attacks among players.
- “Fast-travel” between locations: do 10 lunges to simulate the effect of walking.
- Respawn after being blown up: do 10 sit-ups to simulate the resurrection process.
- Upgrade your laser rifle: do 10 pushups to simulate the effort of disassembling your weapon.
- Recharge your magic spells: hold yourself in a “plank” position for 30 seconds to simulate the focus required for wizard-ness.
- And many more!
If you own a game company, or are a publisher, you should demand this in your next game!
PROS: Increases the fitness level of decadent citizens of post-industrial economies.
CONS: Might cause personal injury.