Last month Ubisoft revealed that their upcoming Montreal-developed Nintendo DS title My Health Coach: Weight Management would ship with a pedometer peripheral that tracks a user’s steps and distance travelled. This pedometer can be carried around during the day, and uploads stats and progress to the application when attached to the DS. What differentiates this title from the multitude of other non-games for the DS, and even WiiFit, is the mobility of the peripheral and potential applications for use outside of weight management.
On the very same day Ubisoft announced My Health Coach, noted Alternate Reality Game designer Jane McGonigal gave a talk at SXSW on and happiness and why and how we should be making real life more like video games. Her full keynote can be read here. With Ubisoft’s DS pedometer fresh on my mind, I couldn’t help but feel her ideal future where society uses games in their daily lives to kill boredom was closer than she thought. Near the end she talks about expensive GPS utilities tracking positions and mobile devices that communicate with Twitter and other web services, but here comes Ubisoft with an affordable peripheral for the most popular mobile device on the planet. I’m sure a designer like Jane McGonigal could come up with dozens of bredom-killing game ideas that take advantage of this pedometer. And how long can it be until the DS officially supports GPS tracking too? It’s refreshing to see that Ubisoft Montreal isn’t a studio just limited to creating big budget blockbusters, and is actually at the forefront of challenging our concept of what constitutes games and where they can be played.