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Fitness video games under home quarantine

Staying fit while under home quarantine because of the pandemic is a challenge for some, and not doing exercise may only worsen the cabin fever. So turning to Ring Fit Adventure maybe one solution.

The fitness video game from Nintendo, a Japanese games and electronic company, topped the sale charts in Japan, America and Europe, with over 170 million copies sold in late February, after being released for five months.

Ring Fit Adventure was launched at a price of 7980 yen, which is approximately 577 Hong Kong dollars. However, as demand soared since the coronavirus outbreak, the price jumped more than threefolds to around 2100 Hong Kong dollars at its highest point in February.

The price of the game has risen rapidly since mid January in mainland China as well. According to Daniel Ahmad, a senior analyst at a gaming market research company, Chinese sellers are buying overseas game sets at the list price and reselling them for around 2200 Hong Kong dollars. He thinks that the huge price difference is due to global shortage.

In Weibo, there are 10.2 million discussions under the topic of Ring Fit Adventures. Short videos and thoughts regarding the game are shared.

Nintendo even had to apologize for the shortage, as shut down of factories in China affected the supply.

On Nintendo's official website, the game experience is described as "Explore fantasy adventure worlds to defeat monsters using real-life exercises". In the adventure mode in Ring Fit, users are required to mirror the poses shown to defeat monsters. The poses are sorted into four main categories, each meant to train a specific body part. For example, under the "leg" category, users need to do squats, mountain climber and side steps.

Claudia Cheng, 24, bought the game after the start of the epidemic.

"As I am working from home now, there are fewer opportunities to walk and exercise. Therefore, I will like to keep moving to prevent getting chubby."

She finds this game useful in motivating her to exercise everyday.

"There are achievements and titles I can obtain in the game. For example, if I login for 10 days consecutively, I will be awarded with the title "Adventure Lifer". The achievements motivate me to login and exercise regularly, as I want to collect them all."

However, she thinks that working out in the game is still different from training in a gym.

"The biggest difference is the lack of mirrors at home. In a gym room, there is usually a big mirror for users to observe their poses, so they can correct accordingly. When exercising at home, it is difficult for me to check if my pose is correct or not."

Ernest Ko, a 17-year-old student and a user of Ring Fit Adventure, shares similar views.

"I like how the game automatically calculates the  calories I have burned. But I think it is better to do sports outdoors, as I do not feel like running when stomping and jumping on the same floor repeatedly."

Although the average selling price of the game slightly decreased to $1500 in recent weeks, it remains higher than the list price.

In a digital game store in Lok Fu, notice boards tell people that the game is sold out.

Gareth Ko, 55, a pediatrician, thinks that the video game does help with training.

"The game is good as a starting point for those who are reluctant to do sports. It may be attractive to those who seldom do sports, and can influence them to develop their interest in sports."

However, he also points out a few drawbacks of the game.

"There is a lack of interaction with people as it is a single-player game. Of course, you cannot breathe fresh air and be under the sun by staying indoors." 

He warns players to be careful when exercising with Ring Fit Adventure.

"Proper outfit is important. Since training becomes easy and convenient to do at home with this game, people may ignore the importance of wearing suitable clothings."

He thinks that if people wear their normal outfit, which are usually pajamas and slippers, when exercising at home, they may get hurt.

"Proper sport shoes with cushions should be worn whenever exercising. You put too much stress on your knees if you have an intense workout without wearing specific outfits for doing sports."

He believes that the game can help users keep fit. However, a balanced diet and sufficient sleep are important as well. Persistence in working out regularly is also a key to success.

A graph showing the change in price of Ring Fit Adventure before and during the epidemic outbreak. (Capture from price.com.hk)
Notice boards at a digital game store in Lok Fu, saying that Ring Fit Adventure is sold out because it is too popular.
The game automatically shows how many calories are burnt.
Users are required to perform different training tasks in the adventure mode, including pulling the ring and performing different yoga poses.
Users need to bend their bodies in different directions to escape from monsters in the game.

《The Young Reporter》

The Young Reporter (TYR) is an English news publication produced by international journalism students at Hong Kong Baptist University. It started as a printed magazine in 1969. Today, TYR is produced across different platforms.

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