Okay, people. It’s time to address this. Remember Wii Fit, a small exercise game from Nintendo? Well, it’s now approaching the 20 million mark for units sold. It is currently the fifth highest-selling unbundled video game of all time. It was around this time last year, shortly after its launch, that it fell straight out of the UK all-format Top 40 chart, but only because it had completely sold out. A year on and it’s about to break the record for weeks at the top of that chart, including the last seven weeks at the time of writing. The record for most weeks at number one is currently held by Who Wants to be a Millionaire that topped the charts for a massive — and surprising — 18 weeks. Wii Fit has had the number one spot for 16 weeks, and it’s all set to become the “Everything I Do, I Do It for You” of video games. Just like that song attaining its own accolade, Wii Fit’s domination leaves a bittersweet taste in my mouth.
Before I continue, I’d better admit that I’m one the 20 million that bought Wii Fit. Or, more accurately, I’m half of one of the 20 million, because I went halfsies with my girlfriend on it. Half of that decision was to placate her obsession with mainstream health & fitness products, a third of it was a journalistic curiosity about the game and the fascination surrounding it, and a guilty sixth consisted of a genuine desire to have a glorified set of scales to connect to my HD-TV, and to see my pug-ugly Mii grow fat on it. So really, given that I went halfsies in the first place, only a twelfth of me actually wanted it.
As it turned out, I ended up quite liking Wii Fit. I wasn’t in love with the game or anything, but for a while we were certainly amiable. My girlfriend and I got into doing its mini-games as part of our morning routines. We enjoyed sharing our misadventures in weight loss (her) and weight gain (me). We took pride in displaying to curious, envious visitors, all the while trying to look something akin to healthy. Sadly, it soon started to collect dust in the corner of the lounge, forsaken and forgotten. A couple of months later, after hearing similar stories of Wii Fit neglect, I resolved to not fall into the same trap, and I fell back into that morning routine. Even if on some mornings it was only to check my weight, I made the effort to play the game every single day. In fact, I played it so much that the Balance Board’s batteries finally gave up on me. That was a couple of months ago, and now it once again sits in the corner of the longue, but this time with an unopened pack of AA batteries resting on top of it. Unsurprisingly, I am no thinner than when I first bought the damn game.
Is that why Wii Fit’s domination frustrates me? No, I’m not naive enough to expect a video game to magically embellish me with a swimmer’s body, and I knew its limitations when I bought it. No, it’s because I’m still not sure whether I can denote it with the previous sentence’s definition of ‘video game’. I’m not (massively) against the casual shift, but maybe this is where I draw the line. When a set of scales connected to a TV is outselling ‘real games’ like Grand Theft Auto IV, Resident Evil 5 and Fifa 09, maybe it’s time to re-examine the definitions. Or is that just pretentious elitism?
There’s another way to look at this. With the controversy surrounding the Change4Life campaign and its unmitigated attack upon video games, and the sedentary lifestyle associated with it, maybe Wii Fit is what gaming needs to silence its attackers. Maybe I typed in that sentence because I watched The Dark Knight this weekend. Either way, it’s got to be better than Who Wants to be a Millionaire?, right?