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Get Fit While Gaming With These Exercise Rated VR Games

Getting Fit With Exercise Rated VR Games

We’ve said many times that virtual reality technology would change the world in many ways, including how we work and the way we consume entertainment. VR is also changing the games we play by bringing us deeper into their virtual worlds and letting us move around and interact with them. VR games let your body engage with the virtual world, not just your imagination, and in turn, it’s giving gamers an excuse to be active--sometimes, without them even realizing it.

The VR Health Institute recently launched the VR Exercise Rating system, which grades VR games for their physical activity level. VR Exercise ratings range from Resting (seated games that burn less than two calories per minute) and Sprinting (active games that burn 15+ calories per minute). The VR Institute uses sophisticated testing equipment to measure the oxygen intake rate of gamers while playing to determine the intensity rating of each game.

If you want to add more activity to your lifestyle, but the idea of going to the gym doesn’t appeal to you, the following VR games may be the answer that you’re looking for. Now you can get a good cardiovascular workout while clocking hours in your VR headset.


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The VR Health Rating System

VR games range in activity level from sedentary seated experiences to highly active room-scale games. The VR Health Institute’s VR Exercise Rating separates titles into eight different activity levels that help give perspective to how much energy the average person would expel while playing different games.

  • Resting: Traditional seated games. Burns 0-2 calories per minute.
  • Walking: Light activity, comparable to walking. Burns 2-4 calories per minute.
  • Elliptical: Moderate activity level, comparable to yard work, recreational sports. Burns 4-6 calories per minute.
  • Tennis: Medium activity level, comparable to a singles game of tennis, cycling on level ground. Burns 6-8 calories per minute.
  • Rowing: Elevated activity level, comparable to using a rowing machine or playing a competitive team sport. Burns 8-10 calories per minute.
  • Biking: High activity level, comparable to competitive uphill cycling. Burns 10-12 calories per minute.
  • Swimming: Very high activity level, comparable to doing the butterfly stroke in competitive swimming. Burns 12-14 calories per minute.
  • Sprinting: Rigorous activity level, comparable to sprinting up stairs. Burns more than 14 calories per minute


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Job Simulator

Job Simulator is one of the most well known and highly regarded VR games to date. Owlchemy Labs had the privilege of being one of the first developers with access to Vive development hardware, and Job Simulator was one of the games that HTC bundled with pre-ordered Vive headsets.

The game is set in a future where robots do all the work, and people use the Job Simulator so they can “remember what it's like to job.” The game features four scenes in which you're thrown into different job simulations, such as an office worker, an auto mechanic, a short order cook, and a convenience store clerk.

Job Simulator isn’t the most active VR game available. In fact, it’s the least active VR game that the VR Institute has rated, so far. But you would still expel more energy playing Job Sim than you would while playing a seated game. Don’t expect to drop a belt size or two from pretending to be a “productive” office worker, but it’s better than sitting on the couch all day.

  • Platforms: HTC Vive, Oculus Rift
  • Input: Motion Controllers
  • Publisher: Owlchemy Labs
  • Developer: Owlchemy Labs
  • Multiplayer?: No
  • Calories per minute: 2.26 kcals to 2.3 kcals
  • Store Page: Steam, Oculus Store
  • VR Exercise Rating: Walking


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QuiVr

QuiVr is a first-person bow-and-arrow tower defense shooter that features simulated physics modeled from real bows. You must use your archery skills to defend your keep from constantly advancing foes.

QuiVr features a single player mode and a drop-in/drop-out multiplayer mode that lets you play with friends. You’ll also find global, weekly leaderboards so you can compare your best scores with everyone else who’s played the game. 

The VR Health Institute gave the Walking rating to QuiVr, which puts it at the low end of the fitness scale. The company said that this is a preliminary rating, as they didn’t use the oxygen consumption test to measure this game. The VR Health Institute uses a heart rate monitor to measure the workout level of QuiVr. We haven’t tried QuiVr, so we can’t say how accurate the rating would be. However, gameplay videos suggest that the game doesn’t demand that you move around rapidly.

  • Platforms: HTC Vive, Oculus Rift
  • Input: Motion Controllers
  • Publisher: Alvios Inc.
  • Developer: Blueteak
  • Multiplayer?: Yes. Online co-op
  • Calories per minute: 2.87 kcals to 2.87 kcals
  • Store Page: Steam
  • VR Exercise Rating: Walking


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Climbey

As you may have guessed from the name, Climbey is a virtual reality climbing game. The point is to reach the top of the map as fast as you can. Climbey offers online multiplayer, which enhances the excitement by adding a competitive level to the game. Racing your friends to the top is sure to get your blood flowing.

Climbey features a form of arm-swinger locomotion to navigate the virtual world. To move, you reach out and grab the virtual environment and pull yourself forward. The harder and faster you pull, the quicker you’ll move through the world.

The VR Health Institute’s test results showed that Climbey should burn roughly three calories per minute, which puts it on pace with walking. You probably won’t break much of a sweat playing Climbey unless you get really into it, but the constant arm swinging still burns more energy than sitting at your desk.

  • Platforms: HTC Vive, Oculus Rift
  • Input: Motion Controllers
  • Publisher: ShadowBrain Games
  • Developer: Brian Lindenhof
  • Multiplayer?: Yes. Online co-op
  • Calories per minute: 2.92 kcals to 3.01 kcals
  • Store Page: Steam
  • VR Exercise Rating: Walking


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Vanishing Realms

Vanishing Realms is a first-person dungeon crawler for the HTC Vive. The game features a selection of weapons, including swords, maces, and a bow with arrows, and it features hand-to-hand combat against life-sized magic skeletons. The gameplay isn’t incredibly demanding, but the ducking, dodging, and swinging that you must do to play the game effectively can get your heart pumping.

The VR Health Institute rates Vanishing Realms near the bottom end of the fitness scale, but we reckon the game’s second chapter would offer a better workout than the first. The first chapter of Vanishing Realms features mild action with enemies that are few and far between. The second chapter is somewhat of a gauntlet run, where you must face 10 successive waves of enemies without succumbing to their attacks. If you die, you restart the gauntlet from the first wave.

Vanishing Realms launched in Early Access alongside the HTC Vive. The game is still in early access, and the developer doesn’t have a definitive release date planned for the full release.

  • Platforms: HTC Vive
  • Input: Motion Controllers
  • Publisher: IndiMo Games LLC
  • Developer: IndiMo Games LLC
  • Multiplayer?: No
  • Calories per minute: 3.01 kcals to 3.29 kcals
  • Store Page: Steam
  • VR Exercise Rating: Walking


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Tilt Brush

Most people wouldn’t consider Tilt Brush to be even a mild workout, but the VR Health Institute pegs it as mild exercise, akin to walking. The three-dimensional art application gets you up on your feet and moving your arms around to draw in 3D space. Tilt Brush lets you draw as high in the air as you can reach and as a far out in the distance as you could ever want.

The light, easy-going actions one would perform within Tilt Brush don’t expel much energy, but drawing in Tilt Brush is more active than traditional drawing. Don’t expect to break a sweat drawing in VR, but an hour in Tilt Brush would burn a comparable number of calories to an hour-long casual walk.


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Raw Data

It’s no surprise that Survios’ Raw Data is on the VR Health Institute’s VR Exercise Rating list. However, we would have expected the title to offer a more rigorous workout. Survios was one of the first developers to coin the term "active VR," and the company put all its efforts into creating an exciting, active gaming experience. We’ve played Raw Data several times, and it’s always left us with our hearts racing and lungs pumping.

The VR Health Institute compares the workout from Raw Data to that of a typical walk, but we would suggest that the level of physical excursion would depend on your weapon selection. Raw Data offers fast-paced, thrilling first-person combat action with firearms and melee weapons. You can wield a shotgun, dual pistols, or a sword, and the gaming experience depends upon your weapon selection. A player packing dual pistols would experience a lighter workout than a player wielding a sword, for example.

  • Platforms: HTC Vive, Oculus Rift
  • Input: Motion Controllers
  • Publisher: Survios
  • Developer: Survios
  • Multiplayer?: Yes. Co-op, PVP. Cross-platform.
  • Calories per minute: 3.13 kcals to 3.58 kcals
  • Store Page: Steam, Oculus Store
  • VR Exercise Rating: Walking


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Rec Room

Rec Room is another game that would offer a variable workout level. It's a virtual reality community club that offers a variety of activities for you to participate in, including charades, dodgeball, basketball, and paintball. The type of activity that you select affects the level of exercise you would get.

The VR Health Institute rated Rec Room as the equivalent to walking, which is likely accurate for most activities within the virtual community club. You could burn somewhat more calories if you get into a really good match of Rec Room paintball, though.

  • Platforms: HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, PlayStation VR
  • Input: Motion Controllers
  • Publisher: Against Gravity
  • Developer: Against Gravity
  • Multiplayer?: Yes. Co-op, PVP. Cross-platform.
  • Calories per minute: 3.9 kcals to 3.94 kcals
  • Store Page: Steam, PlayStation Store (soon), Oculus Store
  • VR Exercise Rating: Walking


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SuperHot

SuperHot VR is the virtual reality adaption of the critically acclaimed first-person shooter with the same name. SuperHot VR offers a unique time-freeze mechanic that adds a level of strategy to your movements. In SuperHot VR, when you move, time moves; when you stand still, time does, too.

Despite the time-freezing element, SuperHot VR is a fast-paced game. You can take micro-breaks in between the action, but when the time is moving, you must be cognizant of where your foes are and what projectiles are coming your way. SuperHot VR also allows you to punch your enemies if they get too close to you or you run out of ammo.

SuperHot VR received the Walking rating from the VR Health Institute, but it’s at the top of the walking scale. The VR Health Institute said that playing SuperHot VR would burn just over four calories per minute, which isn’t far off from the Elliptical rating. Playing SuperHot VR is more akin to a brisk walk than a relaxed stroll.

  • Platforms: HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, PlayStation VR
  • Input: Motion Controllers
  • Publisher: Superhot Team
  • Developer: Superhot Team
  • Multiplayer?: No
  • Calories per minute: 4.05 kcals to 4.06 kcals
  • Store Page: Steam, PlayStation Store, Oculus Store
  • VR Exercise Rating: Walking


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VirZoom Arcade

The VirZoom Arcade is a collection of VR games that work with the VirZoom Bike and VZ Sensor exercise bike attachment. VirZoom Arcade features five free VR games, including a horse back riding game, an F1 racing game, and a helicopter flying game, among others.

The VR Health Institute rated VirZoom Arcade as the equivalent of an elliptical trainer, which is curious because it uses an actual exercise bike, so you would expect the exercise to level to be comparable with cycling. 

If you own an exercise bike and a VR headset, you could combine the two with the VZ Sensor for a more entertaining workout.

  • Platforms: HTC Vive, Oculus Rift
  • Input: VirZoom VZ Bike or VZ Sensor
  • Publisher: VirZoom
  • Developer: VirZoom
  • Multiplayer?: Yes
  • Calories per minute: 4.05 kcals to 4.58 kcals
  • Store Page: Steam
  • VR Exercise Rating: Elliptical


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  • bit_user
    It'll be interesting to see if standalone 6-DoF HMDs usher in a whole new craze of multi-player VR gaming in large rooms, parking lots, and maybe even soccer/football fields.
    Reply
  • COLGeek
    ...or go outside. Breathe fresh air. Take a walk. Run. Engage in a team sport.
    Reply
  • mrmez
    "Fit". That's a pretty loose term these days.
    Reply
  • JamesSneed
    Little bit of a presumptuous title, how about get some exercise while gaming? How many hours until the average gamer would be fit by playing these games. :)
    Reply