Nintendo offers fitness programs for Wii users

wii.jpg(Atlanta Journal Constitution) Maybe playing video games all day isn’t so bad for you after all. Nintendo this week introduced an add-on to its popular Wii video game system designed to bring physical fitness to couch-potato gamers. Called Wii Fit, the new system comes with a bathroom scale-sized “balance board” and dozens of fitness-related software programs. Users can do yoga, step aerobics, calisthenics or stretching while on the balance board, and Wii monitors their form and progress. Other games also emphasize exercise, such as a soccer game that requires users to do virtual “headers” to keep an opposing team from scoring.

Mystech: My crane is totally going to pown your downward facing dog!

The device also can automatically calculate a user’s body mass index and check his or her posture. Users can track their health trends and compare them with family members or friends.

Wii Fit is indicative of how Nintendo and other game makers are trying new ways to reach a market beyond kids: older users and those who previously weren’t interested in video games or consoles.

The age of game players is increasing as yesterday’s Pac-Man players become today’s moms and dads, according to the Entertainment Software Association.

Today, the average age of game players is 33, according to the industry trade group. A study it did earlier this year showed that 39 percent of U.S. moms and 47 percent of dads say they play video games by themselves at least once a week. Also, according to the group, about a quarter of all game players are over age 50.

“We are now facing a wonderful new reality: Everyone is a gamer,” Reggie Fils-Aime, president of Nintendo of America Inc. said this week at the start of the game industry’s E3 Media and Business Summit here. “People who never played games before are now playing games.”

Nintendo isn’t the only company trying new ways to push beyond its traditional market of young males with its game consoles.

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