I may be relatively old, but I have been an avid traditional video gamer pretty much my whole life. My family began with an old school Intellivision in our house, then we graduated to the classic NES after which I was off and running. I stuck to Nintendo all the way from there until the PS3 was several years old. It was at this point that my (still many hours per day) video game hobby turned into more of an obsession. It led me down paths of buying and owning multiple consoles, while working to boost my PC performance. But when Virtual Reality systems like the Oculus, PSVR, and Vive started making their way into actual homes I was kind of meh when it came to my interest level.
Don’t get me wrong, I had a lot of friends who bought all the way into the Oculus model and were obsessed with the technology and immersion of virtual reality at home. But something about it stayed foreign to me. Maybe it was my disappointment in the Wii as a gamer’s console (this is probably an article for another time), and maybe I just figured the VR phenomenon was going to be the same lukewarm gaming experience that would eventually die down, but I really was not interested in VR at all. I loved video games the way that I loved them, and putting a screen on my face just had no appeal.
However, over all these years something else happened. I began to age into my phenomenally embarrassing dad-bod, all the while trying to figure out what I should do about it. Of course, I started trying all the obvious solutions like dieting, cutting back on carbs, calories, drinking more water, eating less sugar and so on. I also joined a gym and bought an exercise bike to keep in my house. So many things told me this was going to go ok. I had a plan, and I would make it happen. Unfortunately, I didn’t take one major thing into account.
I AM INSANELY LAZY.
So with this in mind, I realized I had to take a step back and figure out a new idea. Something I could really be motivated to make myself participate in. Contributing to my brainstorming was the massive popularity of the Peloton and other similar products that provide in-house professional trainers – but more interesting to me was that they also pit users against each other to take part in races and competitions. Then it hit me. There was always one thing that I could fall back on as something I spent my time on regardless of how much free time I had or how tired I was. Video games.
And my search began. Where could I find a fitness and exercise option that would gamify my experience? Was there something I could put in my home that would make me work out even though I felt like I was playing video games? Honestly, the VR concept was so far away from my mind (as I explained earlier) that I didn’t even think about it at all. I had a few conversations with some different friends about if they had any gamified workout ideas before one finally said “WHAT ABOUT BEAT SABER?”
Then, after researching the Oculus Quest 2 for just a couple days I decided to jump right in. Spending $300-$400 on a gaming device that doubled as a fitness opportunity was something I was easily able to convince myself could be worth it, especially considering I’d spend that and more on any treadmill, bike, traditional workout unit in my home.
As it turns out, the Oculus Quest is actually really freaking fun, and yes, I can confirm that you can get insanely good workouts on it. There is no doubt that VR is still way behind the curve if you’re comparing it to traditional gaming. Many of the games feel like phone apps, or are just unending experiences until you lose (think old school Tetris). On top of that, apparently putting a tiny screen directly in front of your face can impact the graphical capabilities of a console – who knew? Nevertheless, I have had very few experiences where I’ve played on the Oculus for an hour and not come out a sweaty mess.
This can happen almost regardless of what games you’re playing. Titles like Beat Saber, Blaston, Pistol Whip, and Superhot VR contain a big workout factor, despite the fact that it’s not the primary purpose of the game. But VR game developers apparently have also realized that fitness is a huge market opportunity, considering how many games have been created that actually are specifically about exercise. Supernatural provides players with playlists full of music you know, a trainer in your ear, and a fun gaming experience. While experiences like FitXR and VRWorkout are also obviously geared fully for a full body workout.
I am suddenly swimming in fitness opportunities that are basically all fun…like I actually want to go play Oculus right now. I’ll get on there for an hour or two and easily burn 750-1000 calories just by playing video games, which I love anyway.
All in all, I think the Oculus is one of the most worthwhile purchases I’ve ever made, and it is starting to actually change my life. I have never so consistently gotten myself to exercise so many times per week, especially not at such an intense level.
Maybe I haven’t kicked the dad-bod yet, but at least I know I’m having a major impact on my wellness…and all I have to do is play video games!