Like it or not, Triple-A gaming is integral to the success of VR. Personally, I prefer my VR narrative adventures to be tightly packaged around smaller game time sessions, but there is no denying that a world like Skyrim is incredibly immersive in VR. In short, VR needs narrative adventures to grow.

Most of us fitness gamers play something with a quest in it, so, we wanted to know if it was possible to fitness hack these typically casual experiences. The challenge: to fitness hack an adventure style game with long sections of downtime that would usually lower heart rate. How do we convert downtime into a more intense experience?

Get Physical

First, we looked at what the body is doing during free locomotion, and the answer is nothing. We tend to just sorta stand around and wait for the action to happen. There are two problems with this approach. The first is that standing around contributes to motion sickness because your brain is expecting your body to move, while the second is heart rate. VR is supposed to dispel the myth of the inactive gamer. Let’s see how we can pump up the action!

Shuffle in Place

Keep moving during firefights to increase your heart rate and present a difficult target. Credit: Bethesda

We found that games with different walk speeds, like Fallout and Skyrim, offer adjustable opportunities to increase heart rate. It also turns out that moving in the real world reduces motion sickness.

We suggest shuffling or high stepping in place when you enable free locomotion. Moving your feet also keeps you light on your toes, ready for any engagement, and adds some extra cardio.

Crouching and Squatting

Most narrative adventures have some form of cover, even if you’re not necessarily using it. We found that cover systems offer excellent opportunities to work your legs and core and feel strongly Fallout 4 and Arizona Sunshine are good games to experiment with such methods.

Time to get a squat workout while you avoid the undead. Credit: Vertigo Games

Bethesda games force your character to crouch when sneaking, so you should practice doing this physically. We admit this can make free locomotion tricky, but squatting is one of the best ways to improve core and leg strength.

As a bonus, cover typically stops incoming fire, so you survive in the game much longer.

Use Melee

This is fine, it’s only an intense arms and shoulders workout with your life hanging in the balance. Credit: Bethesda

Melee strikes engage your wrists, arms, and shoulders, so you should opt for a handheld implement of destruction as often as possible. Swinging a broadsword might be one of the best reasons to pick up Skyrim

Add Weight

Natural resistance is your friend in a narrative adventure. Keep those weapons at the ready to improve the workout you get in your arms and shoulders. Try and make a mental note to hold your arms out as you play and avoid letting them fall to your sides.

Credit to: ZFOsports

Once you’ve got that down, add weight for natural resistance. Once you feel like you can handle anything, make that locomotion a bit rougher with a weighted vest. You’ll find it adds a bit to the realism too. Anyone who ever asked where characters fit all that equipment will get an idea when they wear a weighted vest. Arm weights also give melee weapons some heft, so you feel like you’re swinging something.

As an aside, try leg weights for boxing games. You can thank us for the workout later.

Play Longer

We noted one of the great things about Skyrim was how well it plays for long periods of time. Whether or not you choose to mod the game, the story and interaction are incredible. You will find endless entertainment and questing in the world of Skyrim, Boston, and the town of Sunshine, Arizona to name a few.

Narrative adventures are engaging, and if you follow this advice, you’ll play them for hours. Before you realize it, you will be burning calories and fitter than you were playing these same games on the couch.

Pair your experience with a fitness smartwatch, and you will notice your step counts rising. Most of the players we’ve profiled who have seen double-digit weight loss barely recognize they are working out. All of them attribute their weight loss to VR, but most don’t consider it working out in the traditional sense. That’s the strength of the narrative.

Final Thoughts

Adventure games show us exciting locales and ever-changing stimuli the brain craves. Fitness hacks unlock the weight-loss potential in these incredible experiences. The advantage of these games is how quickly time passes. You barely feel the full body workout you just spent two hours on, and it’s easy to stay active every day because you want to progress.

Narratives are a powerful tool in VR fitness, and we hope the genre grows with the active gamer in mind.