The experiment was meant to determine whether people with limited or no use of their legs could use the game a legitimate form of exercise. From character creation, to body tests and training exercises, Papineau – who runs The Able Gamer
, a video gaming news website focusing on promoting gamer access – searched for ways to accommodate no leg use in the game.
Papineau found that most initially unlocked games and tests were achievable by sitting on the Wii Fit Balance Board, using the abdominal and arm muscles to control your body weight. Though some difficulties were encountered, the results were overall pretty positive.
“The hardest part for me was the initial registration,” explains Papineau in his findings. “Obviously, the Balance Board was meant to be stood on during this test.” After a series of calculations to determine the best means to reach a semblance of realism in the BMI calculation and registration process, Papineau calculated his height and weight to be approximately 85% of his normal attributes, sitting down.
“I didn’t think Wii Fit would be an accurate way to measure BMI for someone who can’t stand and I was right, but I did feel it was important to try and get a somewhat accurate representation of myself while sitting in order to make the game feel more ‘normal’.”
When it came to the actual training, Papineau started with Yoga exercises. Half of these, he found, were achievable sitting down and actually felt like harder workout in that position. “It was easier to keep my balance centered but my abs and sides got a real workout compared to when standing.”
The strength exercises required some creativity, but again offered a decent workout opportunity even with the single-leg extension, seemingly impossible to achieve while sitting down. In this case, Papineau said: “Obviously I couldn’t swing my leg behind myself while sitting. What I did here was lean to each side and balance on one buttock. Then I exaggerated the arm movements found in this exercise. While technically cheating, I found it a good arm workout, especially with wrist weights.” The torso twist was also deemed an excellent workout sitting down.
Some aerobics exercises and balance games, notably the hula hoop and the soccer heading, were greatly helped by grabbing on to the handles found under each side of the Balance Board. This allowed for ease while swinging the body weight in different directions.
With this demonstration, Brian Papineau hopes to open new doors for paraplegic or otherwise lower-body disabled individuals, who may have friends or family who own the game. They too can take part in the action, and maybe even improve their health by performing these exercises.
“Though what was doable did provide a good activity level, I’d have a hard time recommending a $90 Wii Fit purchase to someone with limited or no leg use, simply because a large amount of the activities were not able to be performed while sitting,” concludes Papineau. “If the package was $50, I’d recommend it across the board.”
To read the complete experiment results visit The Able Gamer