Nintendo Pokewalker Makes Your Pokemon Real
A pokewalker is a device bundled with the Heart Gold / Soul Silver Pokemon games. The pokewalker is essentially a pedometer, but it is a pedometer that connects with your game and rewards you with in game rewards when you walk in real life. Finally, a way to integrate gaming with the every day grinding we should all be doing to stay fit. I love it. I love it so much I want to have its babies.
For every 20 steps the player takes, they earn one Watt (shortened to w). These watts are used to level up Pokemon and unlock new routes in the game. It has been estimated that a player would have to walk 1,000 miles to unlock all the routes that can possibly be unlocked using the Pokewalker, and that's brilliant.
I want to hug and squeeze and kiss Nintendo all over right now. How often have you, as a gamer, been wandering around your every day life and wished that there was some obvious achievements system for you to grind? Sure, if you work 40 hours a week, you get paid, but there's usually a tediousness associated with that grind that would make it unplayable if it were a virtual game. Real life rewards are often unpredictable and capricious too. You might get a raise if you work hard, or you might get laid off due to circumstances out of your company's control. If you study hard for an exam, you'll probably do better than if you didn't study at all, but putting in 20 hours of study doesn't guarantee you a pass mark, it's a game of chance you're forced to play. On the flip side, in game rewards are alluring because they are definite. If you put in the work, you are guaranteed that reward, and we humans love that kind of certainty. We adore Nintendo.
I also adore the way that this encourages fitness. I've recently taken to playing my console games standing up (PSX, not Nintendo Wii,) just because I reckon it's a good way to burn a few extra calories and avoid the horrors of a sedentary lifestyle. I'll probably now buy the Heart Gold or Soul Silver games just to support the concept.
I hope and pray that other companies pick up on the concept. Imagine being able to level MMORPG / RPG toons by going for a run IRL. This concept has so much promise and the potential to make gaming a force for good in the world. I sincerely hope this becomes a major part of games, not a one-off gimmick.