Can VR and or Kinect be used to really help lose weight and allow gamers to have a healthier life? Let’s talk about how this is possible.
Since the launch of the Kinect for Xbox 360, I’ve often wondered about how games could potentially influence my journey to a better and healthier me. Over the course of the last generation, I would test my theory here and there, playing games ranging from Kinect Sports to various titles such as Just Dance from Ubisoft. Eventually, I’d go as far as to actually trying out things such as the Zumba Fitness game (that one didn’t go over well since I can’t dance for crap).
But soon as the last generation ended, so did my push to use games as a form of weight loss and a form of enjoyment in my search for a better and healthier me. I would watch myself get bigger, bigger and even bigger over the years. From 2007-2017 I put on nearly a hundred pounds, ballooning from 187lbs to nearly 310lbs by August of 2018. Over that period of time, my parents, my friends, my viewers, and even colleagues would see me spiral out of control. I’d lost control of myself.
I was no longer using Kinect to combat the weight issues I’d faced all my life. By August 2018, I was at my all-time high of 309.5lbs according to my scale. That was me bone dry, only in my bathing suit. 309.5lbs at approximately 5’8”. I’d gotten to the point that even potential community members for my stream would tune in, bluntly telling me “my god you are fat, quit streaming,” and I did. I’d lost faith in myself and what I wanted to do. I lost the want for my passion for streaming and almost gaming.
Even with an Xbox One and Kinect, there weren’t enough games to keep me invested in my weight loss program
But before we get to where we are now, we have to rewind just a bit. On March 15th, 2016, I’d decided to do it again. I doubled down, I purchased an Xbox One Kinect from GameXChange here in Oklahoma for $18.99 using what trade-in credit that I had to make my purchase. Again, I would try and use a Kinect to combat the weight I had gained. Over the course of a month, I’d lost interest though. Everything I was doing begun to feel like a task, something that was no longer fun.
I’d done these routines a dozen times over in the previous generation. I’d used Kinect Sports Rivals to my breaking point and found myself once again losing hope. After all, weight loss isn’t supposed to be fun at first. You want results and you want them now, not later. So again, I would encourage myself through the help of my high school friend Kelin, who would help me find the courage to face my mental block: I had to tell myself this isn’t just for me, but for my career, for my family and ultimately, for the good of my health.
For the next few weeks, I would give Kinect games another try, borrowing titles such as Just Dance and Disney’s Fantasia Music Evolved in order to motivate myself once again. But what seemed fun, began to feel like a less than a meaningful task at hand. I’d already begun to lose interest, pushing what should be a 45-minute work out to less than 30 minutes and even found myself going from doing it daily to maybe once or twice a week. The long story short? I was bored again. I’d lost my invested interest and would once more plunge into despair over my weight.
For the next year, I would do everything I could to find meaning in my weight loss goals. I’d bicycle, I’d change out driving for walking and I’d even attempt to rip out my PlayStation 2 just for a few rounds of Dance Dance Revolution Max2 just to bring my interest back into my favor and hopefully enjoy what I was doing.
But as you would imagine, it didn’t work and the next year would be another sink into the weight I’d steadily begun to gain.
And then I was introduced to Mixed Reality and VR gaming thanks to my game developer friends.
By August 2017, I’d already begun to lose hope. I’d exhausted what felt like every avenue I could take. I’d had trainers, I’d dieted, I’d even had apps to keep my habits in check. During that time, nothing worked and would seem to work by any means necessary. As QuakeCon 2017 began to roll around the corner, I’d hit my largest weight peak ever at 312lbs recorded. I was at an all-time low point in my life. I’d done everything I could and simply given up. It was at this point I was introduced to Mixed Reality and VR gaming thanks to my developer friends.
Even as I waited in line behind the hundreds of people waiting to play various VR games, I couldn’t help but wonder if the VR dive was worth the chance. After all, I’d only messed with it briefly and the games I’d played required next to no movement based activity and yet, here I was, about to play DOOM VFR for the very first time on an HTC Vive. After getting into the booth, I’d learn what controls did what after a brief explanation from one of my friends from id Software (name omitted due to privacy concerns) who was working the booth at the time.
After the nearly 20 minute demo, something had clicked in my brain: What if VR could be used to help fight obesity? What if VR could get games that require high mobility, require users to actually immerse themselves into digital landscapes for the betterment of their health? That’s when it all had clicked and my newest journey would begin.
PlayStation VR has played a major role
When it comes to weight loss, we can all agree on a single thing – it sucks. None of us enjoy it and none of us want to. It’s a hassle, it’s annoying and to put it bluntly – we hate it. However, what if there was a way to make it fun, to kill two birds with one stone? So off I went and started using our household PlayStation VR headset.
First, I would start with RIGS Mechanized Combat and start plowing my way through various matches. Sure, the minimalistic movement was there, but I’d soon learn it wasn’t quite what I was looking for, after all, how could it be? I needed more mobility. I needed a reason to actually move, to force my body to work itself and shed the weight I’d already gained.
Next up, I decided to try Gran Turismo Sport, but unfortunately, that was a shortlived experience. But something clicked the moment my mother had shown me an upcoming VR game by the name of Beat Saber from indie developer Beat Games. It was perfect and it would quite possibly fit everything I needed for my journey, but there was one minor issue – it wouldn’t be out for several months.
So, off I went, back on my quest for interactive VR games with high mobility requirements. I’d eventually jump into games such as Killing Floor: Incursion, DOOM VFR, and even Summer Lesson just to get some mobility underway. Unfortunately, I didn’t find what I was looking for in any of the aforementioned titles, but rather, an experience that left me hungering for something more.
That’s what I needed, after all, something with more activity, more mobility; I needed something that would push me to my physical limits for how immobile I’d become over the years. Then something changed. Something amazing happened: Greg, one of the writers here at Blast Away the Game Review, introduced me to a new and unique PlayStation VR title – Beat Saber.
After months of struggling with finding a game that would do just fine, I found myself astonished with my first three hours with the recently released title from developer Beat Games, a team known for their ambitious title that has been in the works for quite some time and only having been in early access since May this year. And now that it’s out, I had my chance to go hands-on for a little over three hours with the title.
I was drenched in sweat, my face dripping, hair soaked, and shirt damp from the amount of exertion I had put forth.
Getting started was easy – or so I thought. I booted up the game, got adjusted to the use of the move controls and before I knew it, I was already getting well underway, getting started with the game on its Normal difficulty in the free-play mode and slashing my way through hundreds if not thousands of blocks over the course of several hours.
After quite some time, I was slashing my way through the song’s “Escape” and “Elixia”, but what I didn’t realize was astonishing. I was drenched in sweat, my face dripping, hair soaked, and shirt damp from the amount of exertion I had put forth just in a few hours time.
And yet, I continued on, slashing my way through the various difficulties that have revealed themselves to be a workout on their own, I also realized I was enjoying what I’ve been doing. I enjoyed how hard the game was working my body as hard as it could. I was enjoying the exercise it was providing me.
Now, it’s time to truly try using VR as my medium of choice, to use it for the benefit of my health and see just how far it can go and if there are any noteworthy changes that may occur. But you may wonder, how will I take note of these changes? A smartwatch such as a Fitbit, a weight scale, and a log noting how long I played Beat Saber itself moving forward. Because it’s already working, why not provide evidence of the fact I’ve become a weight loss success through the use of various VR games?
About the Writer(s):
Dustin is our native console gamer, PlayStation and Nintendo reviewer who has an appetite for anything that crosses the borders from across the big pond. His interest in JRPG’s, Anime, Handheld Gaming, and Pizza is insatiable. His elitist attitude gives him direction, want, and a need for the hardest difficulties in games, which is fun to watch, and hilarity at its finest. You can find him over on Twitter or Facebook.