Saturday, October 20

Leisure Industry Week 2007

Gamercize at LIW

Did you see Gamercize at the Birmingham NEC last month? No? I am not surprised, the show was very busy as you can see from the picture! Gamercize was exhibited connected to a junior cycle and a junior stepper, as a two player combination.

This proved a popular setup with visitors starting up fit kids clubs in locations all over Europe. Organisations planning to get kids fit with video games were diverse, a new theme park in the Netherlands, a Premiership Football Club in England, a Local Education Authority in Wales and a health club chain from Spain were most notable.

A common misconception from the show visitors was how the interaction worked. Unlike other exergame equipment, Gamercize does not interfere with the game play. Ok, if you stop exercising the games pauses, but that is less of interference and more prompting. Without this interaction there would be no incentive to exercise. All of the kids (and some of the adults!) were able to keep the game going without any trouble. The skill needed to play the game is not hampered by physical ability or co-ordination. When visitors had this explained, the proverbial penny dropped.

Some direct control equipment was on show, although a poor choice of game did not show its potential to the full. That is a pity because for 100% racing addicts, the equipment is very good. A word of warning from the "Stinger", of The Stinger Report fame, was that heart rates should be monitored on exergames that require effort for progress, especially for children, to avoid health risks. A very good point from a very knowledgeable individual.

Nintendo Wii was on show too, which was good to see but a warning from a school who purchased a number of them was quite revealing. They had found kids started to play the games by sitting down and flicking the wand with small hand movements. Clearly this is not in the spirit the console should be used. A few of the wands have since gone missing too. Wii Fit will probably be a better alternative for exercise on the Wii.

We left our second LIW very happy with the progress in attitudes to exergames and it was great to meet up again with the good people from the dedicated fitness and fun kids clubs. A few words from a very passionate and clearly dedicated Ian Wright on his inolvment and experiences with kids fitness was also very welcome. Have a good year to all exhibitors, and for sure we will all be back at the NEC again in 2008.

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