A few days ago, I posted about the recently demonstrated Wii Balance Board hardware accessory for the Wii Fit game forthcoming for Nintendo's Wii gaming console. In a nutshell, it's a small step-board (shown to the left) that detects foot pressure and wirelessly conveys that data back to the Wii.
Today, it occurred to me how Nintendo (or any third-party developer) could combine the Wii's standard handheld controllers -- the Wiimote and the Nunchuk (shown to the right) -- with the Wii Balance Board to offer a very interactive, full-body gaming experience.
Imagine a first-person shooter where, to walk or run forward, the user walks or runs in place on the Balance Board. Or, perhaps if that's too much effort, leaning forward or backward could control movement in those directions. Jumping, a common activity in FPS games, would be accomplished by doing the physical analog (bunny-hopping becomes much less of an issue, then). The two handheld controllers could then be used for more precision-oriented input, such as view direction, weapon selection, and firing.
Or, alternately, think about how many sports-oriented games require foot/leg-based movement that could be handled instead via the Wii Balance Board. Snowboarding and skiing would be natural treatments.
What about side-scrollers? Imagine Super Mario Brothers where you need to walk on the Balance Board to move Mario left and right. Would it be more fun? I dunno, but it would certainly be more work (and a better workout) than simply pressing a button with your thumb.
Anyway, I'm sure this is just the tip of the virtual iceberg. I look forward to Nintendo and its development partners coming out with even more innovative uses for all these nifty, wireless controllers. I hope gaming in 10 years looks little like the sedentary, sit-on-the-couch-and-stare-at-the-TV activity that it has for 20-some years now.