flickr photo by Sean Reilinger

I bet when many people hear of the word “gaming”, they immediately picture a bunch of young kids sitting in front of the TV playing video games.  What many people don’t understand is that there is a whole other gaming world out there besides shooting aliens and killing zombies.

Current gaming consoles allow you to participate in a whole slew of different activities, supplying hours of adventure, strategic planning, and even cardiovascular exercising.  Yes, these game consoles can even get you in shape like a personal trainer would all in the comfort of your own home.  And when you’re done exercising you could then always go back to killing zombies with friends.  Or if you want to postpone the zombie massacre you could always do that after watching your favorite movie on Blu-ray or from Netflix.  It’s amazing what these modern day gaming consoles are capable of doing.

It’s no surprise then to hear people using them for much more than just gaming.

Dennis Durkin, corporate vice president and chief operating and financial officer of Microsoft’s Interactive Entertainment Business, said that 40 percent of Xbox Live members in the U.S. are spending their time on the console on non-gaming activities.  That includes things like watching streaming movies on Netflix, listening to music content on the Zune and apps, and eyeballing friends on Twitter and Facebook.  (via CNET News)

And now with the release of Kinect for Xbox 360 hand controllers are no longer needed to play your favorite game or even learn new dance moves!

Unlike any other consumer technology available today, Kinect for Xbox 360 lets you use your body and voice to play your favorite games and entertainment, literally turning you into the controller.  Simply step in front of the revolutionary sensor, and Kinect sees you move, hears your voice and learns how you play.  No buttons.  No barriers.  Just you.  With 17 Kinect games available this holiday season — including dance, fitness, sports, racing and family experiences — Kinect gets everyone in the family off the couch, on their feet and in the game. (via Microsoft News Center)

Sony’s PlayStation 3 lets you use your body to be the controller as well with its motion-sensitive Move controller in your hand.

Reviewers say the PlayStation Move is comfortable, easy to use and highly accurate… On-screen movements are nearly instantaneous with no noticeable lag. The biggest downside is that not all PS3 games are compatible with Sony’s Move technology.  There are about 50 Move-compatible games on the market, including "SOCOM 4," "Heavy Rain" and "Tiger Woods 11."  A few reviewers also note that you’ll need a large room to ensure the Move Controller stays in range of the PlayStation Eye camera.  (via Consumer Search)

What’s also an added feature of the PlayStation 3 is the built-in Blu-ray player.  You can connect with the PlayStation network for online gaming and also watch movies with Netflix.

Reviewers say the PlayStation 3 Slim is the best video game console if you want to do more than play games, especially if you’re in the market for a Blu-ray player as well.  David Carnoy at CNET says the PlayStation 3 Slim stays near the top of his list of the best Blu-ray players.

The PS3 connects with the PlayStation Network for online gaming, chatting with friends or downloading games.  You can also rent TV shows or movies from the PlayStation Store or stream them from Netflix (subscription required).  (via Consumer Search)

And if realistic graphics are not a big deal and you want a relatively inexpensive system for the whole family then the Nintendo Wii is the way to go.

Most reviewers agree that the Wii isn’t the best choice for serious gamers, because the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 have more realistic graphics and a better selection of adult-friendly titles.  But reviewers also acknowledge that the Wii isn’t meant to be a high-end gaming system — it’s meant to be fun to play for adults and kids alike.  In this respect, testers say the Wii very much succeeds.

The Nintendo Wii also includes two USB ports and an SD card slot to view photos on your TV.  It connects to the Internet via Wi-Fi to download games, play movies from Netflix or check news and weather.  (via Consumer Search)

It’s amazing to think that a single “gaming” console will allow me to play games, watch movies, get in shape, and use my brain.  I have to admit the gaming technology of today is waaay different from when I grew up using the Atari 2600 or Intellivision.