Nintendo Wii: A glimpse into the future of health promotion?

by Hans on 2007/07/11

I’ve been very impressed with the Nintendo Wii. The game system is simple to use and very fun. Even though I have a Sony Playstation 2, I hardly ever play it any more. When I do try to play it, I find the games to be far too complicated to play (especially trying to learn the complex controls for sports games). Personally, I think Nintendo has a great business plan that is taking advantage of the theory of disruptive innovations as described by Clayton Christensen.

Basically, Nintendo is expanding the market of game players and not competing for the same “hard-core” gamers that Sony and Microsoft target. Instead, Nintendo focuses on fun, easy to learn games that seem more family and group oriented. Okay, the graphics aren’t great, but after playing a Nintendo Wii, all I remember was how fun it was.

Nintendo just announced a new fitness product called the “Wii Fit”: it consists of “a flat, board-like object that rests on the floor and is touch-sensitive” (article via Arstechnica). The purpose is to use the game system to get into shape by engaging in fitness activities like yoga, aerobics, and other activities that get your heart pumping. With obesity a public health risk, maybe this product can get kids more physically active.

In the past, I wrote about how video games may be a disruptive force in health care. Maybe health promotion initiatives need to get more creative in trying to get the message out. I think the industry is doing its part, especially with groups like the Serious Games Initiative. I wonder if Nintendo’s new product(s) is just the beginning of a new type of gaming experience. After playing the Wii, I can understand how being active can make the gaming experience more enjoyable and interactive. Nintendo just seems to be more blatant about the health aspects.

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