Thursday, April 23, 2009

Regional differences?

So, I picked up Wii Fit last week, and only got around to using it this week. I'm very surprised by it. I don't expect that it will get me in the best shape ever or anything like that, but I've heard from several people that it helped them stay on a routine and that it was good as a warm-up or as a supplement to working out, or for days when their regular workouts weren't going to cut it.

So, moment of truth: I'm in *terrible* shape. I haven't worked out regularly since... uh... how long ago did I have to take gym class, again? Seventh grade? I went through a phase in undergrad where I was working out semi-regularly, but mostly running and stair climbing. And the reality is that I'm getting older, my diet has been pretty consistantly crap for the last few years (for a variety of reasons), and I've gone from working a retail job where I was doing a lot of lifting boxes and climbing stairs and generally being active for 7 hours a day 5 days a week, to holding desk jobs and being a grad student who plays more video games than he should.

So, to say that I'm not in the best shape of my life is, in reality, laughable. I'm clearly in the worst shape I've ever been in. And I know that my weight is not indicative of my health, and I try to remind myself that it doesn't matter how big my waistline is, as long as I'm healthy. Of course, that would carry more weight (no pun intended, actually) if I was actually healthy. Which I think it's safe to say that I'm not.

Anyway, the point is that I picked up Wii Fit because I'm trying to make a commitment to getting healthier. I'm also giving up soda and chips (two of my MAJOR weaknesses, thank you very much. I've gone from multiple cans/bottles of soda a day to only one bottle of soda in the last week. Unless you count seltzer, which I don't, since it has no sugar or chemicals in it, and doesn't actually taste very good).

The first time you turn on Wii Fit, it goes through this whole process of figuring out how healthy you are and setting up goals and all that fun stuff. I selected my Mii character (the little character you make on the Wii that represents you). I put in my age and my height, and then I stepped on the magic board to, I assume, get weighed. Then it spit out my BMI.

Now, I fully recognize the problems with BMI, but as noted above, I already know I'm not healthy, so when it told me that I was seriously overweight, almost at obese, I was not actually surprised. What I was surprised by was when it took my little Mii guy and blew him up like a balloon to show me how fat I am!

He looked very unhappy at the process, by the way.

And then, when I started doing exercises, if I didn't do them very well, it would sort of give me this passive aggressive or outright mean remarks. Not like "Come on you lazy fuck, hold the pose!" But, on one of the balance exercises, I was having trouble keeping my center of gravity where it wanted me to. So, after the exercise, while it's showing me my results, it says something like "Wow, you had trouble with that one. Do you often find yourself tripping over your own feet?"


As it happens, I don't.

Anyway, I started thinking about it, and I realized that there was another game that exhibited this kind of blatantly hostile attitude towards players when you wouldn't expect it... Animal Crossing, back on the Gamecube. You'd move into this cute little town, filled with cute anthropomorphic creatures living in cute little houses. You dig up shells, you buy cute furniture for your house, and you're supposed write letters to the other townscreatures or do errands for them. The thing is, you go up to them to say "hi" and they greet you with things like "Oh my goodness! I was scared. I thought you were a monster, but then I realized you're just wearing an ugly outfit!" They're just plain mean to you, the whole time. They tell you you're funny looking, they tell you how much better other people are at writing letters, and they insult your intelligence and your taste in art/furniture/clothes/etc.

It's weird.
It's got me wondering if there's some weird translation thing happening, where they increase the a-hole quotient when they translate the game for American audiences. Or maybe I'm just interpretting the interactions differently than other people?

I don't know, but it's very curious to me.

In Animal Crossing it made me write them really nasty, mean letters. Which was funny, until the other people who were playing the same town with me started to complain because the animals would brag about what a great letter they got from me, and it would be a letter telling them that I was going to burn down their house.


Anonymous said...

You might find this interesting, by this freelance writer called Shamus Young:

Crystal said...

I get that trip-over-your-feet comment a lot too. The animated balance board once compared my husband's mii to a dog. I can't remember exactly what it said.

I haven't used my Wii Fit in a looooong time. I got distracted by hurting my back. This is a common problem for me. I get knocked off exercise routines way too easily.

But now your post has motivated me to exercise today!

Roy said...

Thanks for the linke, presetyourjet! I knew that i'd seen a similar critique of Wii Fit, but I couldn't remember where. I should have known it was over at Shamus' place, as it's one of the last mostly-video-game-centric blogs I still read. =P

I feel you on that, Crystal. I'm the same way. I think that it's just a fact of my life that I don't like exercise. That's not to say that it excuses me from doing it, but it does mean that I really need to stay dedicated and make an effort to do so.

I wish I had an eliptical machine. I could get on it, throw in a dvd, and just go to town. I used to do 45 minutes on the eliptical back when my apartment had a gym on site. It was great (although sort of gross), because I would be covered in sweat after my workout--like, literally having sweat pouring off my body. I figure if I'm sweating that much, I must be getting a good workout. But, I wouldn't necessarily feel like I had to immediately fall down and die, afterwards. I felt tired, and sort of sore, but what I guess is supposedly a good way.

Oh, and I always remembered to bring my towel with me, so as not to get my gross sweat all over the machines. Good workout hygiene people!

Sovawanea said...

I can't comment on the Wii Fit as I do not have one yet. But, I know exactly what you mean about being in the worst shape of your life. I went from a job where I could walk to work everyday, where the office was trying to practice what we preach and kept each other from eating junk to taking the bus to the most sedentary job I have ever had where there's a potluck or fundraiser every week or so. (Seriosuly, buy a dozen donuts for the American Heart Foundation? Not only do they need money, I suppose they have realized the more people that eat donuts the longer their advocacy is needed?)

So, not wanting to spend a hundred dollars after I got my Wii and having abandoned my elliptical exercise bike because of knee pain, I got My Fitness Coach for the Wii instead. It doesn't try to give you cartoonish games to trick you into exercise or outright insult you. It's straightforward exercise with a digital personal trainer, Maya. You can pick from different types of activities, it incorporates basic work out equipment you may already have like hand weights, heart monitor or stability ball. It will also give you credit for workouts not done in the game. It does put you through an assesment when you start your profile and this is rehashed with weekly physical challenges. She did recommend weight loss as my goal for my workouts because my BMI was 'outside guidelines for a healthy weight' or something like that. But, I can skip past her completely ignoring that and choose to focus on flexibility, which has been a lifelong problem. And in about two months, I've been able to touch my toes again.

And it was only around $30 dollars, which makes it very reasonable considering its flaws such as boring music, not being able to take annoying exercises you don't like out of the rotation and not being able to skip or lessen the frequency of physical challenges.

Becky said...

But, I know exactly what you mean about being in the worst shape of your life.Ugh, me too. I'm a little better now... I have a job where I can walk around and I've been making an effort to go to the gym. But last summer was an all time low for me. I moved from an office where I had a 15 minute walk from the train to one where I had to drive, and it was amazing how much difference that made to my fitness level.

Roy I'm just like you and Crystal in that I have trouble sticking with a workout routine. I'll be doing fine and really into it, and then I'll miss a workout, and then another, and then another, and next thing I know I've stopped again. I don't even dislike excercise... I think I dislike the idea of excercise. I always have to talk myself into it, but once I do I usually (although not always) enjoy it.

Gina said...

OH GOD YES! Animal Crossing is my pick for the third-most-body-image-damaging game of all time (after Wii Fit and that Japanese dating sim where you diet to make guys like you). I have played all the versions, but the Wii version is the first one I've played since I stopped believing the weight loss industry's propaganda, so I notice it a lot more now. There was this one cat living next door to me who just WOULDN'T SHUT UP about her dieting. I think the characters' dialog has gotten more repetitive! (Because one squirrel always, always talked about power walking, too.) And of course all the female characters were dripping with guilt at Thanksgiving, going on about how they had to banish the horrible food from their bodies by working out a lot.

Nique said...

I was also put off by the snarkiness of the Wii Fit so I tried EA Sports Active. It's a much more encouraging, positive game and I've actually managed to lose weight and build muscle using it, whih is something that never happened in 6 months with Wii Fit. Only took 1 month with Active. Also you can track your eating/lifestyle habits with it, which I find encourages me not to pig out on junkfood.

meerkat said...

Yeah, I hate the Wii Fit.

Animal Crossing is just a cruel game. Not only are your neighbors jerks, but they walk up to give you something awesome and then when they see your pockets are full they just decide not to give it to you, ever. (If you empty a space in your pockets, it takes so long they lose interest.) In the GameCube version they used to forcibly sell you crap and take your money, so you couldn't carry too much. On the Wii after Thanksgiving they say lots of horrible things (in the Japanese version at least) about banishing the evil evil food from their bodies with exercise. What a healthy attitude!

Dr. Kold_Kadavr_flatliner, M.D. said...

Grrr. Git some followers.