Like a box of Cheerios, boxes for Wii, Wii Fit Plus and Wii Sports Resort will soon feature a seal of approval from The American Heart Association. That means, really, truly, these video games could be good for you.
Nintendo and the American Heart Association leaders told reporters today in New York City that their groups would join forces to encourage fitness awareness by emblazoning some of Nintendo's products with the AHA logo and, later in the year, convening a research summit about multiple topics including fitness and video games.
Both Nintendo and the American Heart Association are encouraging the use of "active-play video games" as a new method for helping people ward off the risk of heart disease and to improve their health. About 70% of Americans get no regular physical activity, according to the AHA. The group cites an Institute for Medicine and Public Health study that indicates that the average person spends more than eight hours a day just sitting down.
An American Heart Association endorsement of the Wii, Wii Sports Resort and Wii Fit Plus are intended to help counter the country's bad statistics and help those who feel they lack time, expertise and the boldness to exercise in public to find their path to fitness. Enter the idea of getting your heartrate increasing with some Wii products. "We know these games are being embraced for a healthy lifestyle," Nintendo of America executive vice president of sales and marketing, Cammie Dunaway, told Kotaku. She said this partnership began informally with the launch of the first Wii Fit in the U.S. in May of 2008 and blossomed into this one-year partnership announced today.
In addition to the box-labeling and research summit, the arrangement between the two organizations also includes a $1.5 million donation from Nintendo to the AHA. The two groups will also support activeplaynow.com, a health information website. The box branding will begin "very shortly," Dunaway said. Some demonstration boxes were propped up at the press event.
American Heart Association president Dr. Clyde Yancy spent 40 minutes working out prior to this morning press conference — elliptical, resistance training, sprints — and volunteers his freshest gaming memories as buying a console to play Galaga years ago when he was a hospital intern. Combining fitness with video games might be new to him, but he said his group had to get involved because "we have to change with the culture... if we don't do something in the home environment, we lose millions of people."
One of Nintendo's next projects, the heart-beat-monitoring Vitality Sensor, unveiled at last June's E3 by company president Satoru Iwata would seem to complement today's news. Regarding the AHA's engagement with the Vitality Sensor, Dunaway told Kotaku: "They know as much as you know." (Translation: not much!) Yancy did not seem familiar with the product, joking to Kotaku that we're getting ever closer to "Star Wars"-level technology.