Working Out Behind A Screen
How Alternative Sports Will Rescue Your Workout Routine
By Daria Bocicova
And Alice Martin
Alice: I've been thinking lately that it's so much easier to stay at home and play video games than it is to go to the gym. I'm either lacking in motivation or easily bored.
Daria: Well, then why not unite the two? Who said that you can't play video games and be physically active at the same time? There are plenty of alternative sports that include both.
Alice: That’s right, don’t we all remember the Pokemon GO craze? That was a huge trend in 2016 and often comes to mind when talking about combining fun and physical activity. All of a sudden, there was a 99% chance that anyone walking in parks looking at their phone would be playing Pokemon GO. You got to live out this fantasy world that most of us who grew out collecting pokemon cards and playing the game have gotten so attached to. Plus, the gigantic bonus was that it became almost too easy to clock in 10,000 steps in a day in order to reach the most PokeStops possible. Here’s your motivation. However, the app lived its hay day in July 2016 and suffered a massive downfall which made the app lose an extraordinary amount of its players. But, Pokemon GO is far from being the only alternative sport. Daria, I remember you mentioning something newer, yet similar.
Daria: Yes, actually, I recently became addicted to this new game that resembles Pokémon GO a lot, but proved to be much more interesting and engaging to me, especially as a fan of fantasy. I'm sure you remember the popular game trilogy, The Witcher which was based on the book series of the same name.
Alice: Of course, there's also a Netflix series.
Daria: We don't talk about that. Anyhow, now anyone can have a taste of the life of a witcher right on their phones with The Witcher Monster Slayer. The game consists of not only searching for monsters and slaying them but developing your own character and enhancing their equipment. You'll have to gather ingredients and brew potions and oils to survive. This game really puts your quick thinking to a test. You also get different quests from other characters that you may encounter during your travels. I spent all of Friday evening running around my neighbourhood looking for some merchant's lost horse that was taken by a gryphon. Rest assured that I completed my daily steps goal in less than a couple of hours. My phone probably thought that I was being chased by an actual monster.
Alice: Monsters are indeed a great way to motivate you.
Daria: Yeah, like a lot of my teachers are.
Alice: Relatable, but moving on, let’s dive deeper into the theme of monsters in alternative sports. Consider this: if you’re getting chased by a horde of zombies, wouldn’t you run faster and longer? Although this scenario, hopefully, is not likely to happen anytime soon, Zombies! Run is an app on the App Store that aims at recreating those conditions as accurately as possible. The experience is focused on a narrative where you are a “Runner” for a group of survivors of the zombie apocalypse who have to go gather resources and supplies. There are multiple features in this app that I liked. First, you can choose whether you want to be chased by zombies or not. If you choose to, it creates a great interval training and of course, you get that extra adrenaline boost. If you remove the chase option, you are in for a smoother ride, where you get to follow your own pace, which is less stressful and more relaxing. Second, if you don’t want to run, but you have a rower or an elliptical at home, it has an option to simulate running. Finally, it has an option to track your calories and exercise time as well as the distance through GPS, if you prefer to run outside rather than inside.
Daria: Speaking of GPS. Do you know what GEO-caching is?
Alice: It's like a treasure hunt, right?
Daria: Yes, precisely! The keeper, at least that's what I call it, would hide or bury the treasure. Once that is done, the keeper shall take note of the coordinates and transmit them to the rest of the players. One can also create elaborate puzzles for the players to solve in order to get the coordinates to increase the difficulty. And if your friends don't want to play, you can always find someone online. But some of the most exciting things happen when one interprets the coordinates wrongly. Therefore, remember, if you are ever going to try this and you end up at a cemetery, double-check before pulling out a shovel.
Alice: You didn't…
Daria: I didn't. But if you see someone gravedigging at night, it may be someone I know. But as much as I like it, the winter is coming and you know me. If there's more than 10 cm of snow, it's the end of the world and I'm not going anywhere.
Alice: Well I have a solution. Let me tell you about another great alternative: Beat Saber. This game made me sweat my heart out for 3 hours without noticing. Beat Saber is a game exclusive to Oculus virtual reality headsets whose objective is to break cubes with sabers that are coming at you at full speed to a rhythmic electronic beat. Although its mechanics are fairly simple, this game is ridiculously fun and challenging, especially due to its energetic playlist and multiple playing options. Although Beat Saber is one of the most physically demanding games on Oculus, we have to recognize virtual reality as physical activity in general. Even the developers of Oculus themselves, Facebook, realised that and included a software that tracks calories burnt and exercise time for the day. With Beat Saber, I would regularly hit 700 calories in a session. Unfortunately, it does require buying a VR headset and it is limited in multiplayer. Sometimes I’m with friends and we can’t play because there is no local CO-OP option.
Daria: And that's why we have Just Dance. I think most of us have been playing it for as long as we can remember, I know I have. At this point, whenever my cats hear the soundtrack, they leave the house. Now, one of my favourite things about this game is the multiplayer option. There are options for up to four people in terms of choreography but it's also possible for multiple people to play as the same character. Plus, if a few years ago you needed to buy an Xbox Kinect or PlayStation Move separately if you play on one of these consoles, now you can just connect your phone and dance until you drop. It's also available on Nintendo Switch for a more portable option. But even if you don't have a console, you can just find a gameplay video on YouTube and enjoy it for free. With an ever growing library of songs and new hits being added every year, there is certainly something for everyone. I cannot stress enough how many crazy nights I spent playing Just Dance with my friends until dawn.
Alice: Inadvertently, all these platforms make you connect with friends, go outside and make time pass quicker. Aside from actually working out, alternative sports have a lot more benefits. They really do take the best out of both worlds, uniting the physical activity of sports and the fun of video games and it is definitely something that we should all be participating in a lot more.