The Nintendo Wii Fit Plus has become the first computer game to be endorsed by the Department of Health, the papers trumpeted this week.
According to The Times, the DH has allowed Nintendo to use its Change4Life logo in its advertising and in shops. And from next year “it is possible that the logo will be used on the product itself in an unprecedented partnership with the government”.
If you are worried about your bingo wings or your flabby bum, the game will give you specific exercises to target those areas
As the paper reveals, this is a reversal of the health campaign’s relationship with the games console industry, after one of its earlier Change4Life adverts “featured two characters playing video games, suggesting this was something children should avoid”.
But will the partnership extend to the two press offices? Guess which of these quotes in the Daily Telegraph version of the story was from a DH spokesperson, and which from the British spokesman for Nintendo.
1. “Active video games, where kids need to jump up and down or dance about as part of the game, are a great way to get kids moving.”
2. “If you are worried about your bingo wings or your flabby bum, the game will give you specific exercises to target those areas.”
Perhaps the partnership was prompted by the DH’s success with its other computer game - I mean comprehensive information service, NHS Choices.
The Financial Times reported this week that after “a very slow start” over the last 18 months, the number of people using their right to choose private hospitals for their NHS treatment quadrupled from 2,100 a month in April last year to 8,400 this August.
And if sustained promotion and a tie-up with technology is enough to get people exercising their choice, no doubt the government is hoping the same approach will get people exercising their bingo wings.