In the past year, we’ve seen a growing amount of buzz about the intersection of virtual reality and fitness. Indeed, the new technology has proven to be a good ally for the fitness industry, and in fact there are already several games designed to help keep people fit. The most interesting part of that statement, though, might ultimately be the word games. The fact that VR fitness is coming largely in this form emphasizes that by and large, virtual reality is meant to help keep us distracted, entertained, and incentivized while working out. In the same way a perfect playlist can get you “in the zone” to exercise, VR can take over even more senses, sucking you into an experience and making you forget about he grind of whatever exercise you’re performing.
Thinking of it this way, I couldn’t help but start to wonder what other games might be useful in the ongoing efforts to link VR to fitness. Focusing on games that already exist in VR, I came up with a few interesting possibilities.
Temple Run is one of the most popular mobile games of the last decade, and essentially sparked the growth of the entire “endless runner” genre. In these games, for those who aren’t familiar, you typically control a character from a third-person perspective and determine when he or she turns left or right, or slides, or jumps – all to follow a path, avoid obstacles, and sometimes pick up treasures along the way. Temple Run has been adapted to VR to mixed reviews, and because the game involves fast turns and a sort of swiveling environment, one could imagine it becoming jarring at times. However, in a near future of virtual reality gaming in which stabilized treadmills are used, a first-person endless runner like Temple Run might just spawn an incredible fitness program.
To The Top
To The Top is a VR game that seems to make it onto a good many lists of the best games in the category, at least at this stage, and it’s almost built to be an intense workout program, provided the right equipment. If you don’t know the game, imagine a sort of stylized VR parkour experience through animated levels that feel vaguely like fantasy cityscapes. That’s pretty much what you get in To The Top, and it involves actions like pulling yourself up climbing walls, leaping from point to point, and running along the ground. Naturally that’s a bit too much movement for VR as it exists today, but particularly if we’re ever using VR to work out in gyms equipped with whole exercise apparatuses, it could be turned into quite the experience. I’d imagine a sort of 360-degree treadmill for running and jumping, and handles that could supply resistance to help simulate climbing and grabbing – all while the user is strapped into VR.
Gonzo’s Quest is better known for headlining the range of slot games at largely UK-based casino gaming sites. While it wasn’t the first game in this category to employ animations and appealing character graphics, it’s widely viewed as having taken the genre to new heights. Specifically, Gonzo’s Quest uses a fun little character (a cartoon version of a Spanish conquistador) exploring a jungle-like environment representative of 16th-century Peru. The game has been adapted to VR in surprisingly satisfying fashion, and I actually think i would work as a foundation for an interval-based workout. Players could be challenged to perform quick exercises in place during the slot portion of the game, and then to do quick sprints (on a VR treadmill) as Gonzo advances through the jungle.
I won’t spend too much time on The Climb, because in terms of the fundamental concept here, it’s basically the same as To The Top. This is more of a specific climbing game, and is some people’s pick as the very best VR game released to date. But as an exercise program, it could work quite similarly to what I outlined for To The Top – perhaps with a bit more of a climbing machine component built in.
There’s no telling if we’ll ever actually see these specific experiences. But the way things are progressing, it’s fun to speculate about where VR fitness could go from here – and the above games could potentially make for excellent workout apps.