The last few years has seen a tremendous explosion of miscellaneous sport games which require some physical and social activity rather than the traditional sedentary joystick control games.
So what does this has to do with you and learning how to swim?
Well, Microsoft just announced a new swimming game, called Push the Limit, featuring the multiple Olympic gold medalist Michael Phelps.
The Push the Limit game is for the new Kinect on Xbox 360 and came out this summer (2011).
Microsoft's Kinect console supports, so called no-controller games. The game simply responds to the movement of your body parts to execute game play.
So, if you need to wave your hand or kick a ball, you just do so in front of the Xbox set and your character will mimic your movement in the game itself.
Pretty cool, ey?
We will soon be jumping up and down and doing crazy moves in front of our TVs like a chicken with its head cut off :).
The previous swimming games that we have seen are usually part of the Olympic sport series and are controlled merely by a controller, which is, truth to be told, very boring to use.
Furthermore swimming is not the highest rated sport out there, so making a game which features top level swimming athletes might be a much bolder move than just launching new NFL or NHL games featuring all your favorite sport stars.
Let's face it, if there is no swimming national hero like Michael Phelps or Ian Thorpe, nobody would care about swimming at all.
However, since America has Michael Phelps which has marketed the hell out of swimming, more and more people start to see the light at the end of the tunnel and actually do watch or participate in swimming themselves. Which is of course great since everyone should know some basics of swimming.
Especially since now even open water swimming is an Olympic sport.
Back to the reason why I am talking about the "Push the Limit" game here on the swimming blog.
Depending on how good the graphics are and how well the authors captured Michael Phelps' movements, it could be a great teaching tool for the folks that would like to improve in their swimming technique.
For example, let's say that you are doing your race against Michael in the game and you are at your turn, if you don't put your arms in a tight streamline, you will lose a few precious seconds after the turn.
Michael's streamline is almost flawless and he cuts through the water with such ease that you will really need to perfect yours.
Here is the game trailer.
Another example could be the swimming stroke itself.
If you swim freestyle against Michael and you keep your head too high up, your legs will sink and you will swim slower.
However, if you put your head down in the right position you will be faster.
Finally, if you watch the gamers swim in the video above, you can see how when they stroke with their arms, they totally cross over with their arms across the body line.
Compared to Michael's image, he reaches nicely forward, rotating in his shoulder. His hands do not cross over at all.
You get the point right?
I guess we will have to wait and see whether the game authors did the swimming sport justice or if it is just one of those games where you flap your hands around your body as if you escaped from a looney bin and there is no hope of help for you.
From having a quick glance at the video teaser for the game and the screenshots, I have to say that it does look quite cool, but the skeptic in me is still not convinced.
UPDATE: The game "Push the Limit" with Michael Phelps has been out for a few years now, so if you are really interested and would like to try it out, feel free to order it.
If you are not one of the lucky ones who has the pleasure to have Kinect for Xbox 360, perhaps a birthday gift is the way to go.