Xbox 360 and Kinect Sports

Will The Kinect Make Me Healthier? Week 2

Last week in the pursuit of discovering the health benefits of playing video games with the Kinect for the Xbox360, we took a quick look at Kinect Adventures and Dance Central during our first week with the device. This week, we expand on our Kinect chronicles with tales of Kinect Sports, a title that promises fun for the whole family.

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Despite Kinect Sports not bring touted as a fitness title, we had high hopes that it would be one where health benefits were accrued on the sly. It can be said, and should be, that games in which the primary aim is not "working out," yet have health benefits are one of our favorites. Unlike some folks, I am not even remotely a fan of "working out" for the sake of getting exercise and love to get my exercise from fun activities. Ask me to accompany you on a brisk walk through the park, no problem... run beside you on a treadmill... no thanks. With the multi-player aspects being such a huge selling point for this title, I along with a few friends, were keen to see if this was a title we could all enjoy and get healthier while playing.

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Kinect Sports has several activities to play not including mini games these are, Boxing, Bowling, Table Tennis, Track & Field, Soccer, and Beach Volleyball. The overwhelming consensus was that Boxing, Table Tennis and Bowling were the most fun (Soccer was a "meh"), and Beach Volleyball and Track & Field are "the worst games ever." We think that the mutual group dislike for those two activities stem from the size of the room we were playing in (my aforementioned under 600 sq ft apt living room) and the sensor's lack of reading our movements accurately. As far as fitness goes, while one would think Track & Field would provide the largest workout, this however turned out not to be the case since you kind of "fake run" during many of the activities. We did not find "fake running" even remotely intense.

We also discovered rather quickly that in order to be seen by the sensor for Track & Field we had to stand on top of the couch. This is not recommended and is a horrible idea. We then moved the Kinect sensor to the top of the TV and this improved our experience, but not enough... many of the events inside of Track & Field were impossible to play thanks to the sensor still not being able to read our movements. It is important to note that while Track & Field was an almost complete bust, the sensor had no trouble in other parts of this game title with the exception of Beach Volleyball.

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The amount of exercise you will get from this title strongly depends on how much effort you put into playing certain games. When I put effort into every Soccer, Beach Volleyball, and Table Tennis shot exercise definitely happened. This is especially true in Boxing, since you can make the Kinect register your punches by simply moving your hands instead of actually throwing weight behind each punch. Note: an addition is available for 320G (Xbox currency) called Calorie Challenge that will let you set calorie loss targets.

Favorite part of Kinect Sports? The "conduct the crowd" feature in the arena. This feature is frankly quite awesome and leaves you with a lovely "godlike" and "superstar" feeling. Why yes, I can make people cheer and launch fireworks with the wave of my hand.

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In a nutshell, Kinect Sports is a fun game but is not a title we'd consider as one you would choose to get lots of exercise from unless you are really giving it your all when it comes to games like Boxing (ie moving and putting weight behind each punch). How much you get out of this game fitness wise is really going to depend on how much you put in. An important thing to note with this title is that depending on the size of your playing space, not all games will be playable.

What has your experience been with Kinect Sports? What is your favorite activity in this title?

(Images: Joelle Alcaidinho)

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Tech, Gaming, Test Lab Reviews

Joelle loves technology and making things and is in an almost perpetual state of problem solving. She's quite fond of airplanes and coffee and is pretty sure she will eventually read all of the books in her library.