Our quest to examine the health benefits of using the Microsoft Xbox360 Kinect continues in this installment focused on yet another Kinect title. The title that we look at this week is different from the ones examined in weeks one and two because it is a title specifically for working out and getting fit. To be more specific, it is a title for losing weight. Since the biggest impetus for using the Kinect is to get healthier, it might be surprising to readers that it took several weeks to break out The Biggest Loser. The reason for this, as mentioned in previous weeks, is that I am not a huge fan of fitness and so a title dedicated to losing weight based on a TV show I have never seen was not, off the bat, appealing. With as much of an open mind as I could muster, I started using this title.
The first hurdle I encountered with this title is it asked for more light, after turning on all the lights available to me in my living room (it was dark outside), The Biggest Loser decided it could kind of sort of see me. This was surprising considering I had just played Kinect Adventures with no issue. Sadly this title, like a few others, forces you to navigate through the menu using the Kinect. This means that if your Kinect is having trouble seeing you, you will have a frustrating go of it simply trying to start the game.
The exercises that come with the game are pretty standard fare, similar to what you would get from any aerobics video. Word to the wise, if your device cannot see you properly it will not register that you are doing the exercise and will harass you about this. If you are anything like me and hate exercising to begin with, having to do the same thing additional times because it did not register is insanely annoying. This is particularly frustrating and is a deal breaker when it comes to the Fitness Test. Midway through my Test, it quit since it decided I must be lying on the floor instead of working my heart out. To say this is annoying is an understatement.
Post my aborted Fitness Test which was about 30 minutes long, it then analyzed my body. During the body analysis it asks you to stand in different positions and takes a reading of your shape. This is where it gets a little freaky. While I did not like the amorphous blob readings it gave, it did read my height correctly and was accurate within a few inches of my waist and hips. While those measurements were fairly accurate, its reading of my shape was nowhere close. Being a more chesty gal, it surprisingly had me looking like a triangle instead of the hourglass that I am (my hips are the same circumference as my bust) and it added the shape of my breasts to my upper arms, so I looked like some sort of triangular flying squirrel. So not awesome.
After the initial set up it is time to choose your avatar. What does this amazing game do after you put in your weight measurements (it already knows your height and other dimensions)? It presents you with an avatar that is about 100-150 or lbs heavier than you are. This is horrible. Thinking that perhaps this was a fluke, I tried it again on several occasions (since it kept forgetting who I was) and the same thing happened every time. I have never before seen a fitness game avatar default to an obese person, to say I was surprised was an understatement.
This game has your shape in this sort of TSA scanner form on the bottom right hand corner of your screen. Important note, if you felt bad about your weight before playing this game, looking at this image of you, you will feel worse. Seriously, it's not pretty. This blob shows what the game thinks you are doing. It was super annoying to be told to lift up my knees more when they were already almost touching my chin. Thanks to my tiny apartment set up, anything happening below the waist the Kinect would not really pick up.
This TSA scanner blobbish figure of yourself is so not flattering and it is almost always present during every phase of the title. If you struggle with body image and being able to see yourself accurately this is NOT the title for you. I have struggled with an eating disorder in the past and I know my current weight a healthy weight. Do I sometimes feel fat? Yes, but I know that the way I look now is healthy and the way I looked backed then, during my eating disorder was not healthy. Sure, I have an hourglass shape, but that was the way I was made. I don't want to play a game and feel badly about how I look especially when I am nowhere near unhealthy. Am I NYC thin? No, but I am a healthy adult who walks four miles every day and I make healthy choices with food. I did not expect the onslaught of emotions that came with playing this game. Thanks The Biggest Loser, for making me cry.
Body image issue aside, the game play is terrible. No one wants to maneuver and wave their arms to try and select things for several minutes before actually getting to their game. Quick Play is the biggest misnomer of them all since it involves several selections before you can actually get to working out. Generally people don't have much time to work out and this means they don't have a ton of time to fiddle with settings. You just want to do the thing and not spend several minutes trying to hover over boxes so you can read what they are before you select them (confusing tiny icons abound in this game). Honestly it takes almost as long to set up Quick Play as it does to actually complete the exercises.
A unique feature of this game from the others I have played is that it relies on verbal feedback. This is kind of odd, but I suppose it sort of makes sense if the game is trying to gauge if you want to pause the workout without having to move your body into some sort of pausing motion. I found that often, just like with my movements, the Kinect did not understand my voice. This added a whole extra level of frustration to an already aggravating title. In case you are wondering, it does not respond to being cursed at.
Unlike some other fitness titles I have used, this one does not let you omit certain exercises in your workouts. This is very frustrating especially if you have an injury that makes certain activities off limits. One of the advantages of working out in your own home is that you can tailor your fitness program to meet your needs, this however is not the case with this title.
All in all this is the least fun, the least exercise and the most frustrating out of the titles I have tried. During this week, I felt worse about myself and my body and my loathing towards this title has only grew with each passing day. While my "Joan" measurements were revered in another time, The Biggest Loser thinks I am fat and likes to remind me of this in every part of the game while it tells me I am doing everything wrong.
(Images: Joelle Alcaidinho)