Expresso Exercise Bikes, a real workout for gamers. expresso.net

Rode a video game exercise bike, it was everything I expected and more. I had to make a special trip to the East Greenbush YMCA (because they are much fancier) but it was worth it.

When a goofy looking biker in a pink top passes you from nowhere, you petal and you petal hard. As a game designer, my hat is off to the developers, they did everything right. Biking through a virtual trail is one thing, but let me talk about what kept me biking longer than I planned to.

  • Other virtual bikers. They were never going much faster than me so with a little extra effort, I could pass them.
  • Pace biker. Presented a “standard” that seemed fair, not too challenging. He was always on the mini-map so I could see how close I was to the finish line in relation to him.
  • Landmarks in the virtual world gave me emergent short-term goals such as reach the monster truck up ahead.
  • Progress bar achievements such as bike five miles, or complete three trails were basic but effective. I could have stopped after my second trail, but I did another to get the achievement.

One thing that irked me but I respect, was that when ever the end on a trail is in sight, more bikers came out of the wood work, most of them out of reach. At first I tried to beat them all, but it seemed impossible. Another thing about AI bikers, you can’t ram them off the road. I tried, but they don’t have collision (its no Road Rash). Some trails are narrow, but you can take the inside curve on an AI biker and get in front of them.

Each user can generate an account for stat tracking purposes. The bikes supposedly have multiplayer competitive modes and social networking options, but the bike I was on did not have an internet connection.

There was an older gentleman using the game bike next to me. I asked him what he thought of the bike and he said “It was something different, a change of pace.” I wasn’t sure what he meant but he seemed to enjoy the bike. Maybe he thought my question was weird.

I asked the lady who facilitates the exercise equipment room a few questions about the bikes like who uses them and if they are well received.  Her response was that they are always in use by all kinds of people. They used to have four but two of them broke from over use and they don’t make their model anymore. “Everyone loves them” she said.

Games that get people up and moving are one thing, a game that gives you a legit cardiovascular workout is a whole other level.

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