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SGS Feature: 'The Missing Social Rituals of Exergames'

Today's main feature written for Gamasutra sister site Serious Games Source features a look at ways to make our exercise-based games more social, with columnist Ian Bogos
Today's main feature written for Gamasutra sister site Serious Games Source, which deals with games created for training, health, government, military, educational and other uses, features a look at ways to make our exercise-based games more social, with columnist Ian Bogost suggesting that Wii and other physical games will become "miserable and forgettable" without it. Georgia Institute of Technology assistant professor and Persuasive Games founding partner Ian Bogost examines the contributions to exergaming by the Wii, from Wii Sports to the recently released Wario Ware: Smooth Moves. Bogost notes that social interactivity is a necessary component to exergaming: “As someone interested in videogames as cultural artifacts, I have to admit that I’m less interested in videogames’ ability to help us count calories and more interested in their ability to change the way we experience or reflect on our world. So I was more than a little amused when I unlocked the exercise level built into Wario Ware: Smooth Moves, the Wii version of the popular micro-game franchise. Dr. Crygor, the series’ mad scientist, reveals his latest invention, a thinning machine. At the start of the game, a fatsuit-encased version of me (with accurate head taken from the Mii I had assigned to my game file) enters the contraption and the games commence. Unlike normal Wario Ware play, the player always gets a chance to play 20 micro-games no matter his performance, the implied goal of each to exercise as much as possible. Performance is measured in an invented unit of energy, the “kelorie,” and the more/harder/faster the player works in each micro-game, the more kelories he burns.” He goes on to explain: “Those interested in exergames should be particularly interested in establishing new ritual practices unique to videogames. Guitar Hero and Wii Sports are successful examples of ritual-bound physical games, but they borrow their rituals entirely from other domains. Even successful exergames like Dance Dance Revolution offer only transitional examples of developed videogame exercise rituals: DDR on the home console completely erases the complex social dance performance practices of the arcade game.” You can now read the full Serious Games Source feature on the subject, including more thoughts from Bogost on the future of exergaming (no registration required, please feel free to link to this feature from external websites).

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