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New Gaming Trends Widen Market

Parents and politicians will be impressed at two new themes the game industry is embracing. The first is the rise of the exercise game.

Konami launched this revolution in Japan years ago with Dance Dance Revolution and had two new games on display at its bungalow outside of the Fairmont Hotel during this year's E3 Media Summit. Dance Dance Revolution Hottest Party includes both the dance mat for leg exercises and introduces new a Wii controller for arm movement that lets players get a full body workout. Dance Dance Revolution Supernova 2 for PlayStation 2 adds 70 new songs to the hit franchise.


Nintendo had its working prototype of Wii Fit running at its booth at the Loews Hotel. With a large number of female gamers already flocking to Wii, the aerobics and yoga exercises will likely be a big hit. Kids and gamers of all ages won't even know they're getting a workout playing the fun, full-body mini-games like ski jump and soccer heading. Ubisoft's Rayman Raving Rabids 2 features new four-player party mini-games, including one that requires virtual swimming at top speed. With the success of Wii and its "get off the sofa" gameplay, kids are going to shed some pounds while having fun.

Nintendo's also responsible for introducing the brain exercise genre to gamers. Brain Age 2 for Nintendo DS was on display and it offers even more challenging mini-games designed by a Japanese Ph.D. The first three games in the series have been huge hits around the world. That has lead to companies like Ubisoft creating the My Word Coach game for DS and Wii. This game turns vocabulary-learning and spelling into a fun game that aims to make players smarter. Ubisoft is also developing a My Life Coach game that will help consumers plan everything from exercise to nutrition for a more healthy lifestyle.

As Nintendo pushes the envelope and age demographic out from the core with addictive new games like Super Mario galaxy for Wii, the entire industry is making a shift. Electronic Arts, which knows a thing or two about growing the gamer audience with its successful The Sims franchise, looks like it has the ultimate mass market game with The Simpsons Game. This 3D next generation title plays out like a mini season of the show and pokes fun at the videogame industry along the way. The game is as colorful and as innovative as the hit TV show thanks to collaboration with the show writers and creators. And the gameplay is intuitive and addictive enough to allow anyone to join in on the fun.

Even the massively multiplayer online market has been impacted by this trend of opening up games beyond the core. While it has its third-person shooter role-playing game epic, Tabula Rasa, which appeases its hardcore fans, publisher NcSoft is offering the fantasy Dungeon Runners MMO to download and play for free in the hopes of growing this still-niche market. Disney Online's Pirates of the Caribbean Online, an MMO game that's been delayed (again) until the fall, will also offer free online downloads and free gameplay (although only a portion of the world will be open for non-subscribers).

-- John Gaudiosi

By washingtonpost.com Editors  |  July 14, 2007; 10:02 AM ET  | Category:  E3 2007
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