So, as I'm inclined to do pretty much every day, I was reading Techmeme a few days ago. I came across this article about the "physical benefits" of playing video games on the Wii system as opposed to on a generically controlled console.
The following statistics were among the only sited by this article:
Project Gotham Racing 3: 125.5 kJ/kg/min
Wii Sports bowling: 190.6 kJ/kg/min
Wii Sports boxing: 198.1 kJ/kg/min
Wii Sports tennis: 202.5 kJ/kg/mi
The study concluded thusly that Wii gaming: "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."
I find it very hard to take seriously the results of a study that basis its conclusion on data that suggests that a person playing Wii Sports tennis expends more energy than a person playing Wii Sports boxing.
(For the sake of journalistic impartiality, these videos both were among the top 10 videos found with a YouTube search of "Wii Tennis" and "Wii Bowling," respectively. I also opted to use amateur footage because I thought it would necessarily be less contrived than professional footage made to illustrate how easy the Wii is to use.
I have a Wii. I've played both and it's not even close. To quote Jules (Samuel L Jackson) from Pulp Fiction, "it ain't the same fuckin' ballpark, it ain't the same league, it ain't even the same fuckin' sport..."
Well, obviously it's not the same sport. At the end of a typical Wii boxing game I am generally pretty darned tuckered out - and I consider myself to be in better shape than the general population. Wii Tennis, on the other hand, simply involves a flick of the wrist. I can't imagine that minute for minute, the amount of energy expended while playing Wii Tennis even begins to approach that used for Wii Boxing. In short, Wii Tennis requires far less effort than Wii Boxing.
Based on that alone, I question the validity of the study. But even aside from that, even if playing the Wii is only - according to the hard scientific data - slightly better for ones' health than another gaming system, it's still better.
Furthermore, there's the chance that playing a Wii Sport may encourage someone to go outside and play its real counterpart. Before you scoff at this justification, at least stop and think about the fact that emulation is at least an option with Wii Sports. It's not like someone can decide to go out and play Halo in real life.
And Wii gains even more props for actually inquiring whether the gamer would like to take a break to go outside and play. No other system encourages you to do something other than play it.
So while playing Wii is certainly not as healthy as many activities, as far as video games go, it's close to the top.
Though RockBand gives you a pretty sweet workout as well... groupies too...