The True Wii Sports Experience

Revisiting a Generational Perspective of Exercise


Riley Chodoroff

Two young boys face off in Wii Tennis downstairs on a basement TV.

“Wii sports,” the best-selling Wii game with over 45 million copies, broke through the lazy stereotype of video games by using the Wii motion controls to their fullest potential. By combining the world of sports and video games, Wii sports gave consumers all the excitement contained in sports such as Baseball and Boxing while letting them stay in the comfort of their own homes. This new craze of video game fitness created a whole new perspective regarding gaming with the family. One google reviewer even reported getting so passionate about the exercise from the tennis mode that she broke two ribs trying to return a serve from the infamous challenger named Matt. Today, I wish to take you back to your past and show you how “Wii Sports” revolutionized how we think about fitness video games today.

With Nintendo’s release in 2006, “Wii Sports” quickly became the top-selling Wii game of all time, selling over 80 million copies worldwide. These sales are so high due to the Wii console being commonly bundled with the game, but for a good reason. Its limited range of games was supported by innovative hands-on gameplay, making you seem like you were playing the sport. For example, in baseball, you have to swing the Wiimote just like a bat to swing. In tennis, you must swing the Wiimote as a racket to return serves. Even in bowling, if you let go of the ball and accidentally throw it backward, the game rewards you with the infamous clip of all the spectators spinning with shock. Immersing the player in the game was “Wii Sport’s’” main objective, and many believe it passed with flying colors. Game critics such as IGN and Gamespot gave the game a 7.5 and 7.8, respectively, and with an average Google rating of 4.7 out of five stars, many players have contributed to the game’s success.

The uniqueness of the Wii was its ability to use motion as a game mechanic, encouraging people to move around and have fun rather than sitting and being lethargic. This ability is contributed by the Wii’s revolutionary breakthrough of the Wiimote, a combination between a TV remote and a game controller. This allowed the player to move around and play a game that responds to their movements, which “Wii Sports” used massively throughout the game. Gavin Chodoroff, an avid “Wii Sports” player, showed the game’s effectiveness by stating how “…it can be an athletic activity but doesn’t need to be. You can play the game sitting down if you wanted, but the better way to play is up and moving around in free space.” This idea of moving around created more exercise-based games such as “Wii-Fit,” but none could emulate the feel that “Wii Sports” gave to the player. Ethan Chodoroff, a gaming enthusiast, expanded on this idea by sharing that “Bowling is one of the best examples of emulating a sport. It has a good representation of the real sport, using mostly the same physics, which consists of spinning and tilting the ball.” This feeling that many players experience when playing “Wii Sports” is the console’s ability to make you seem like you are in the game. The Wii’s custom avatars called Miis, only expanded on this feeling, letting you play as a virtual player that looks like you, plays like you, and reacts like you. The connection between the player and the game goes beyond the Wiimote by creating an imaginative link between “Wii Sports” and the real world.

This game has amassed a major following, even creating lore that the “Wii-Sports” community created themselves. Much of this lore revolves around a non-player character (NPC) called Matt. Matt has been reported to be the hardest boxing NPC, as well as having superhuman qualities such as bowling overhand and having powers that no mere mortal can possess. This made Matt the face of “Wii Sports”, striking fear when he approaches the screen of many players’ televisions. Overall, “Wii Sports” blessed almost all of our childhood, giving us a bridge between exercise and video games, one which we believed could never be built. With its major market contributions and its ability to brand itself in our memories, there is no debate when Nintendo references “Wii Sports” as its flagship Wii game.