Saturday, December 20

Most Popular Blog Posts of 2008

The top ten best posts of 2008, as voted by you!

Over 2008 I have put some content on this blog and, through the magic of FeedBurner, I can reveal the most popular feed items. With the help of SnapShots you can preview each post or click straight through.

10 - What is Exergaming? (February 2008)

"The term exergame is being used by some as an advertising gimmick."

9 - Exergaming Adventure for Parents and Children (June 2008)
"When you have stood side by side with your child facing the dark forces together you will walk away with a stronger bond."

8 - Exergaming Values (June 2008)
"Many exergames did not balance fun and fitness so have come
and gone."

7 - Forced Gaming for Health Officials (July 2008)
" sharp witted delegate pointed out the irony of a
health conference sponsored by a chocolate company."

6 - Gamercize on 3sat TV (April 2008)
"See Yve Fehring playing Rockstar's Table Tennis on the Xbox
360 with the Gamercize Pro-Sport Power Stepper"

5 - Workout with the Wii Virtual Console (March 2008)
"So how do you get a workout from the Virtual Console? They
key is the compatibility with the Nintendo GameCube Controller."

4 - Home Fitness and the Credit Crunch (September 2008)
"Heading out to the gym or even a long drive to the country
is becoming less affordable."

3 - Brain Training by Physical Exercise (July 2008)
"Increased productivity, less sick days and long term health.
That's not a bad deal."

2 - UK vs USA Pro Evo Fitness Tournament (June 2008)
"While they are not working out they have no control over the
on screen players, making this contest a true test of skill and fitness."

No. 1 for 2008 - Office Desk Exercise in Practice (March 2008)
"The thought of getting exercise at work appealed to some as
a great time saver but for others it looked like it would be too hard to

Thanks to all the 12,500 "votes" that made this insight possible. Happy holidays all, and don't forget to keep your fitness levels up to give yourself a flying start to 2009.

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Sunday, December 14

GZ Family Fit from Gamercize :: Preview

Traditional fitness rower/cycle with added Gamercize fun!

GZ Family Fit is a rowing machine and a recumbent exercise cycle that works with Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 or Nintendo Wii.

Use either rowing and cycling as traditional home fitness equipment or plug in for the patented Gamercize experience of fitness for free while playing video games.

Saturday, December 13

Physical Education by Active Gaming for Girls

Gamercize makes PE fun for girls as well as boys!

Demo days are the best part of working for Gamercize by far. It gives us a chance to test out the reactions to different types of games on brand new audiences. I'll put together the results of this analysis next week for another site, more on that later.

The most recent school demo day we did was in Nottingham, and we brought up a good mix of games. The fun part about this day was we were asked to bring all the last-gen consoles, PS2, Xbox and GameCube.

All of these consoles easily support 4 players, as do the current (PS3, Xbox 360 and Nintendo Wii) consoles. The difference is that there are more games designed for four players at a time, while the newer consoles focus on online play. Gamercize supports all these 6 consoles plus PC leaving the choice, as ever, wide open.

The first class came into the gym bringing a surprise; it was the girls PE class. The easiest games to engage boys with are sports games, would the same be true for girls? Sports worked well, but it was clear the girls wanted more variety, so to engage the whole class we had to do more.

After changing games on the consoles a couple of times we settled into three different genres on all three consoles. Sports was still popular, fantasy racing won out over racing simulation and the last genre turned out best to be a fantasy adventure. This kept the whole class active and happy, and pleasantly surprised as they were expecting traditional gym work for the lesson, not active gaming!

A couple of girls from the 11 year olds class turned up without kit and sat out. This is normal, but what surprised me was about half the 16 year olds class that was next had arrived not intending to take part in the expected gym class. I wonder how many would have skipped PE had they known Gamercize would be there? I think there is an excellent research project idea here - to measure the attendance rates for both traditional PE and active gaming PE lessons.

One group that knew active gaming was coming to school was the teachers. After running an after school club it was time to pack up and get on the road, but the competitive nature of these types of individuals was too much temptation!

Of course rematches we the order of the day as we battled it out with Super Monkey Ball Grand Prix on the GameCube! Video games are not normally associated with the Physical Education department but the competition was awesome! I wonder how the mathematics department would have fared in this mini tournament? Maybe next time.

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Sunday, December 7


Reach the Next Level™ with Gamercize® (or Gamercise®)

I was reading an excellent blog post this morning that gave a comprehensive synopsis of the Wii, through it's marketing, sponsored research and implementation. Sadly the item was flawed in referring to the underlying concept as "gamercise". That's a registered trademark, along with "gamercize", and guess what - it's nothing to do with the Wii!

I've seen the use of our trademark a couple of times recently, and it got me thinking as to why people are gravitating to "gamercise" and away from "exergaming" - which is the popular and non-commercial US term for video game exercise.

The principle behind Gamercize (or Gamercise, if you prefer) is to put activity into existing games, taking none of the fun or control out of the game. This is our unique approach, which is different to all other exergaming implementations as they use exercise for control or as the purpose of the video game itself.

Fitness games are getting a little old, and there appears to be a general wave of realisation (or realization, if you prefer) that video games should be put first in video game exercise. Putting the game first means that the activity never gets old, it will keep you motivated with stealth fitness and you'll have a lot more fun, regardless of your physical condition.

Maybe this is why exergaming has lost a few mentions to gamercise, as people put the games first and not the exercise? I'll leave you with the views of the Times, published earlier this year, on the real Gamercize products:

"Most fitness-themed games quickly become boring. What gamers really want is to plug into their favourite franchise, with Gamercize" The Times.

For more information on the real deal, with the official Gamercize website.

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Friday, December 5

How to Make Mario Kart Wii Fit

Nintendo Wii can be fitness and fun at the same time!

The benefits of the boxing game with Wii Sports and the jogging from Wii Fit would appear to represent the best of the fitness workouts for the console.

What makes the console work particularly well as an active gaming platform is the intentions of the purchaser. People associate Wii with exercise, because the first two major titles Wii Sports and Wii Fit. There are good intentions for health from the majority of purchasers.

In common with all active gaming the health benefits are backed up with sustainable fun. Despite reports that these two aforementioned titles are destined to be played infrequently there is still enough fun factor to get motivated people more active.

What is Wii doing on my blog you may be wondering at this point. I've been training on the various aspects of the Wii system this week, putting the various strengths of each option forward in order to get the most effective use in getting kids moving, and keeping them moving. This is something that I have had experience of first hand with my own once lazy gamers, and have collected over the last four years from our school customer's feedback.
I have already mentioned the more apparent fitness titles for Nintendo's console, but here is one you would not expect - Mario Kart Wii. This title is all about fun and nothing to do with exercise, until Gamercize jumps in and lends a hand. This is the title I choose to demonstrate in my training.
As you can see these teachers are enjoying a head to head battle using Gamercize to keep themselves in the game, on Mario Kart Wii. Gamercize extends the capabilities of the Wii in the class environment.
Gamercize means up to four simultaneous players can play in teams, individual competition or cooperatively. With Gamercize the energy expenditure is increased to four times that of wand games. Using Gamercize allows the kids to change from Mario Kart to Smash Bros Brawl, to Mario Football, making sustaining the extra activity much easier than a fitness only title. Gamercize also works with non-Mario games, in case your kids are Sonic fans!
If you are getting disappointed with the results from your Wii in school, then maybe take this extra dimension and get more active utilisation. If you haven't noticed fitness levels increase then this extra dimension will kick start your fitness technology program, and keep it running with the popularity of the finest Wii games.

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Saturday, November 29

Children ask for Exercise to be Fun to meet Fitness Guidelines

Gamercize tested, proved and delivering when kids need to keep active!

GZ Pro-Sport for WiiImage by gamercize via FlickrKids with equal opportunity for physical exercise or video games choose sedentary gaming, despite wanting to be more active. Results of a study show that 90% of fifty 11 and 12 year olds like the approach of combining these activities with Gamercize. The study, carried out by with twenty-two 11 year olds (8 boys and 14 girls) and twenty-eight 12 year olds (17 boys and 11 girls) investigated the relationship between physical activity and video game usage and examined whether children like the idea of exercising whilst playing video games.

Children had equal opportunity to take part in either activity in their normal daily lives, with 94% of the children saying they had plenty of opportunities to take part in physical activity and 94% with a video games console in the home Despite 86% of the children in the study saying they would normally rather be physically active than play video games only 20% achieve the recommended 1 hour per day of moderate physical activity while 75% manage over 1 hour per day of video game play.

GZ Sport and GZ Endurance CycleImage by gamercize via FlickrGamercize was chosen to combine video game pay and exercise because the system supports all the video game consoles the children use, and works with all the games they play. The children could play their video games only while they maintained movement on the Gamercize fitness machines, stopping moving causes the game play to pause.

In the independent study, carried out by the University of Cumbria, Gamercize was introduced to the children with 90% of them enjoying using the Gamercize GZ Endurance Cycle for PlayStation 2. Gamercize has proved popular in schools and homes worldwide being successful in engaging children in exercise and solving the problem of physical activity being perceived as boring.

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Saturday, November 22

2009 : Health, Fitness and Video Game Industry Predictions

12 Months of change for active gaming!

I keep a close eye on the fitness industry, the video game industry and an even closer eye on the emerging exergame industry. To create and run a company like Gamercize forward thinking is a must, but the worst aspect of being ahead of the game is there are very few people on the same page! Luckily those few are great people to share ideas and discuss exergaming.

For those that follow exergaming, I've put these predictions together to give up the head start. For those that have followed Gamercize and try or are trying to recreate our ideas, there's an added bonus of where we're going next. These ideas have come from my intuition, experience and of course, insider knowledge! Just to throw in a curve ball there's also one or two I have made up just for fun. Naturally you will have to decide which these are, and which are linked.

Prediction 1: During 2009 Gamercize products will beat Wii-Fit in global month-on-month sales.
Typically a video game has a usable life of 2 months, a really good one longer with social or online gaming. Gamercize supports all games, including online ones and those yet to be released giving it longevity, which is why sales keep on going up. For Wii-Fit, that has no social aspect, the advertising will die out in favour of Wii Music or other new titles leaving sales as popular as a 2005 EA Sports game.

Prediction 2: By the end of 2009 Gamercize online tournaments will be watched on network TV.
We held the first online exergaming tournament this year and, despite the small scale of the event, broke new ground for live TV. While video game tournaments are typically hosted locally, we ran ours online between two locations in different countries 8,000 miles apart. We also added exercise for the first time to a previously sedentary video game with a huge global following, namely FIFA soccer.

Prediction 3: In 2009 researchers will prove exergaming is sustainable and increases traditional physical activity.
The previous levels of research have focused on cardio output leaving the success stories to news items, of varying credibility. I predict three key papers for 2009 that will catapult the researchers into international news and define benchmarks against which all products will be measured.

Prediction 4: Throughout 2009 a flood of truly awful exergames will be released.

I have already seen some fundamentally flawed exergaming products arrive, that either fail to deliver either quality physical activity or engaging game play, or sometimes neither. Most of these have fallen by the wayside. Entirely driven by profit ambitions, the length of time these products are promoted will depend on the level of investment, and at least one company will cease trading after being sued for breach of patent.

Prediction 5: In early 2009 home fitness sales will boom and traditional gyms adopt exergaming as a result.
The credit crunch will reduce spending on traditional physical activities and seriously reduce new gym memberships in January. Health aware consumers will turn to home fitness equipment in order to keep fit, but will be far more selective in the capabilities and turn to exergaming products. Seeing the uptake of exergaming in the home, traditional gyms will adopt and promote exergaming in order to keep up with the small number of existing interactive gyms.

Prediction 6: By the end of 2009 obesity levels will have fallen for exergaming equipped schools.
Funding from governments will be dispersed at local level into exergaming solutions by increasingly tech-savvy physical education teachers and school officials. The average age of a video game player will have risen to 40, supporting the technology revolution at decision making ages.

Prediction 7: In 2009 a fast food chain will sponsor and promote an exergaming product.
In an effort to educate consumers to the "calorific energy equation in weight control" and to deflect disproportionate attention from health commentators, one chain will adopt exergaming. Unlike previous attempts by the food industry to support sporting events and teams, this move will be accepted by the public at large.

Prediction 8: By the end of 2009 exergaming products will benefit from subsidy or tax breaks.
Signalling the end of central government inaction with the exergaming industry, several key research papers and public support of exergaming will lead to at least one government to provide financial incentives for exergame products. This move will be balanced against predicted reduction in health care costs or poll winning public support.

Prediction 9: Starting in 2009 video games reviews will include ratings for use with Gamercize.
Video game reviewers, suffering from a squeeze in their own disposable income for gym memberships, will use Gamercize equipment for reviews to keep fit while they work. This will lead to a value judgement of how suited each game title is for use with Gamercize equipment. Ratings will begin to appear and include recommendation on cycle or step variants of Gamercize for each title.

Prediction 10: Throughout 2009 health organisations will promote exergaming as an intervention.
Through measured success in schools and backed by new research, exergaming will be proven as the most effective time constrained method of delivering physical activity. National health organisations will begin to rate and categorise exergaming products.

Prediction 11: During 2009 corporations will adopt exergaming and benefit from carbon offsetting.
Following on from the studies this year, proving weight loss and increased concentration from low levels of continual exercise over prolonged durations, companies get exergaming. A comparison of carbon footprints between travel involved physical activity and exergaming will also provide corporations with a carbon credit for offsetting as a bonus.

Prediction 12: During the early part of 2009, a Mr Barack Obama will become the next president of the United States.

Thursday, November 20

Fitness and Fun in the Sun

When the weather outside is too hot, exergaming keeps children active!

I have been lucky enough to visit the University of South Florida this week, which is oddly located in the north of the state - in Tampa.

I used to spend an awful lot of time in FL and often flew into Tampa, but quickly waving goodbye from the Sunshine Skyway as I headed towards my little place on the coast in Charotte County.

Having spent a few wonderful days in Tampa, I can see why it is a better choice of location than on reclaimed land in the swamps of the south!

While I was there I was introduced to Dr Steve Sanders, Professor and the Director of USF's School of Physical Education & Exercise Science who had invited me to present to the Honors Seminar Exergaming class.

The presentation I used is a retro-fit of my 4 years in exergaming; distilling research, consumer feedback and commercial experience as CEO and founder of Gamercize into one all encompassing "Exergaming 101" slide show. You can see this as a podcast on USF's website under School Videos or on SlideShare.

My host for the trip, who as well as instructing the particular class I was visiting also runs another three online physical education courses, is Lisa Hansen of college basketball fame from Virgina Tech now turned exergaming supporter and final year doctoral student.

If preparing future Physical Education teachers to teach in the field and running class wasn't enough to keep Lisa busy she is also co-director of the XRKade Research Laboratories, one of which is on the university campus and the other pictured here at Belle Witter Elementary School.

The purpose of the lab is to serve as a model for teacher preparation, research to add to the fields of exergaming and physical education, and to provide teachers a source for future implementation of exergaming in their classrooms. It is the focus of Lisa's research for her career in exergaming and PhD concentration.

Rest assured while it is all hard work for the students and teachers, the children see the labs as nothing but fun and play! Keep kids active while they are indoors is a key benefit to exergaming, keeping them happy is the bonus. The weather is a common problem hampering outdoor play for children in Florida and the UK, but on my side it's cold that keeps the kids in the warm and for Florida it's the heat and humidity that keeps the kids under air.

The XRKade research lab in the elementary school is equipped with the very latest the brand has to offer including the iZone, pictured here. The semi-portable unit hosts four console stations, making the maximum use of space for players and spectators. Also, it just looks FUN!

The flexibility of the iZone means it can be configured with many exergames and alongside the three PS2s on this set up is an Xbox 360 supported by a Gamercize Power Stepper.

While it would be possible to have had the Xbox 360 with two (or more!) Gamercize stations, Lisa and I discussed the options and agreed to start off with one player for the extra ability to use strategy and one player puzzle solving games.

One concept we thought would be worth trying would be using Xbox LIVE with Gamercize to explore remote coaching. Gamercize has used this connectivity before to run a UK vs USA tournament and this would certainly add an extra dimension to the whole concept of delivering exergaming!

Sunday, November 9

Streetwise Active Gaming with Gamercize

I came across this on YouTube, does anyone know what show this came from? It's great to see the reaction of people in street to Gamercize and definitely a great idea for raising awareness that video games can be fun exercise.

Tuesday, October 28

Health Experts Back Video Games

Exercise makes video games acceptable.

A research study has been completed to determine the free choice in activity of children aged between 7 and 11 yrs, when given three activity stations:

  • Traditional games with no physical activity
  • Gamercize stepper and cycle fitness machines on PlayStation 2
  • Traditional stepper and cycle fitness machines with no gaming
Given free choice the children were 6 times more likely to engage in physical activity with Gamercize over traditional fitness equipment and they burned nearly 28 times more calories with Gamercize than playing sedentary games.

Here's what the health experts said after reviewing the findings.

“This test encouraged children to be more active, and that’s a great starting point. I know as a dad that the reason why video games are so popular is because they are so good, and kids will not leave them. It’s better to be smart and work with the games, making children more active in the process.”
Dr Ian Campbell, Medical Director of Weight Concern and Associate Specialist University Hospital Nottingham

“This is a very interesting result – it opens up a possible way of getting children more active.”
Dr Colin Waine, Chairman of the National Obesity Forum

“My feelings are mainly supportive, looking at the study, and the products at face value as a means of increasing physical activity in novel and attractive ways. Childhood obesity is, obviously, a major problem, and conventional methods of tackling it have failed miserably, so congratulations for thinking of an innovative new way.”
Dr David Haslam, Clinical Director of the National Obesity Forum

The study results show the effectiveness of Gamercize and the power of using video games for health. Ultimately the kids win out by keeping active and having fun.

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Saturday, October 25

Alternative to Fitness Games - Add Fitness to Your Games

Playing the same game over and over gets boring, change it!

At That's Fit, we've written about Wii Fit several times. But there's another alternative to video gaming exercise that will work with almost any console system. Gamercize is plug and play equipment that will get you fit while you enjoy your favorite video games.

Your Gamercize equipment includes a small device that plugs in to your existing gaming console. You'll be able to set the intensity of your workout here. Then, you can choose from either a power stepper or an endurance cycle. Then plug in your favorite game and start exercising. With the Gamercize modification, your video game controller will stop working when you're not exercising. So in order to play, you've got to work.

I haven't tried the system and, frankly, I question whether I'm coordinated enough to do it. Besides, I'm just not much of a video game fan. But it does seem like playing a fitness game over and over could get a bit boring. With Gamercize, your video game choices are limitless.

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Thursday, October 23

Gamercize - Your favorite game

This has got to be my favorite YouTube video, the song is The Cardigans - My Favorite Game, the game is Tomb Raider Aniversary, the kit is Gamercize GZ Sport for PS2.

Tuesday, October 21

School and Sport's Partnership Conference

Gamercize wins the public vote!

Last week (and this week!) was very busy for us at Gamercize, bringing our unrivaled exergaming products to the UK's School and Sport's Partnership Conference in Telford.

I quick look around showed no active console gaming evident, aside from Gamercize. There were a few dedicated video game exercise machines, and the prices of these was staggering.

Gamercize showed similar exercise benefits, for a tenth of the cost, but they key benefit demonstrated by Gamercize was not the cost but the ability to support the games kids are already playing.

We chose to show the Gamercize products with Xbox 360 and PlayStation 2, as both of these capable consoles are used to engage all children from early years to teenagers plus also double as DVD players for school!

The most encouraging aspect of the conference was the reaction of the partnership development managers, who when handed a leaflet said "that's ok, I already have one" - but that was referring not to the leaflet, but to already having Gamercize installed in their schools.

The hunt was on for delegates that have not engaged their children in physical activity with Gamercize. For those who hadn't seen it before their reactions were extremely positive, which explains why this week is also proving so busy for us - filling orders!

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Sunday, October 12

Two New Gamercize Fitness Options

Modular Exergaming Reaches the Next Level!

This is the riders eye view from the seat of the new GZ Spin Trainer, the latest innovation from Gamercize. The official unveiling will be at the School and Sport's Partnership Conference next week.

The full sized spin bike will join the existing range of portable stepper and cycle exercise machines that have proved hugely popular. The GZ Spin Trainer represents the highest end of exergaming fitness training and will be available for PC, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and Nintendo Wii.

The undoubted success of the PlayStation 2 was in part due to compatibility of games and accessories with the original PlayStation. We agree with rewards to brand loyalty, so the new GZ Spin Trainer is fully compatibility with all existing Gamercize products, making Gamercize the only choice for modular exergaming.

The flexibility of the games and consoles supported by Gamercize is unparalleled in the industry, and now we can bring ultimate ultimate flexibility in fitness options too with our second announcement, the GZ Family Fit. Simply, this new machine represents the most innovative way to make exercise appealing to everyone, regardless of your age or ability and caters for all goals in weight loss, fitness improvement and strength training.

The GZ Family Fit will be available for Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and Nintendo Wii and will also be fully compatible with all existing Gamercize products. The GZ Family Fit also includes a proper medical fitness test, which I believe is unique over all home fitness equipment and definitely a unique function in exergaming.

The two new machines will be available to purchase from next year, initially only to existing Gamercize customers before general release. Prices are to be confirmed, but if you want to try these new machines come to the SSPC, next week, in Telford on October 15-16th.

I'll see you there!

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Friday, October 3

Behind the Scenes of Video Game Fitness

The Making of the Gamercize Video

The challenge was to portray Gamercize in the areas it is used most frequently, which meant tricky on-location filming. The crew from Echo did a brilliant job, and here's how they did it.

The planning was supposed to involve walking through each scene but mostly involved "who gets to hold the camera".

"Hey, look at me, I'm really good at this. Oh. Hang on, I'll just have one more go at that."

"Whatever happens, just keep smiling, it's all legal!"

"So this is artistic? Well OK, if you say so."

The perils of filming a fitness film took its toll, this is the third body double carried off the set.

Everything needs to be right to get the shot perfect... the kids were kicked off and sent into the hall

Playing a game while someone stands in front of the screen poking a camera in your face is the only cause of video game violence.

"Hey, look at me, I'm really good at this. Oh. Hang on, I'll just have one more go at that."

At the end of the day, getting the shot, regardless of the risk from sock fashions, was paramount.

A huge thanks to all those at Echo for providing a great film, and a very special thanks to Katy-Jane, Kylie and Rachel proving fame really is paid for in sweat!

Now watch the finished product: Gamercize Pro-Sport, Keeping Fit with Video games here and on YouTube.

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Saturday, September 27

Major League Gaming vs Championship Gaming Series

Where gaming tournaments are headed.

The first international exergaming tournament, made possible by Xbox LIVE and Gamercize, was technically complex and tricky to co-ordinate the games with the live TV.

You can see the results in the video below, which are impressive but are nowhere near the big guns in the world of video gaming tournaments. The other players that have been on TV are Major League Gaming (MLG) and Championship Gaming Series (CGS).

MLG and CGS take very different approaches, and there are lessons to be learnt from video game tournaments for those of us that are bringing tournament exergaming to the public.

Let us know which approach you think is best, by voting for either MLG or CGS here. Just as a little reminder of the approaches here is an unofficial comparison.

Primary media market: Internet (MLG) vs TV (CGS)
Gaming platforms: PC and Xbox 360 (MLG) vs PC and Xbox 360 (CGS)
Number of teams: 250+ (MLG) vs 18 (CGS)
Number of countries: 2 (MLG) vs 12 (CGS)
Number of TV networks: 1 (MLG) vs 3 (CGS)
Number of games contested: 5 (MLG) vs 5 (CGS)
Game types: FPS, MMOPRG (MLG) vs FPS, MMORPG, Race, Fight, Sport (CGS)

The games for Major League Gaming are:
Halo 3 (Xbox 360)
Rainbow Six: Vegas 2 (Xbox 360)
Gears of War (Xbox 360)
Call of Duty 4 – Online Exclusive (Xbox 360)
World of Warcraft: The Burning Crusade (PC)

The games played in the Championship Gaming Series are:
Counter-Strike: Source (PC)
Dead or Alive 4 (Xbox 360)
Forza Motorsport 2 (Xbox 360)
FIFA 08 (PC)
World of Warcraft: The Burning Crusade (PC)

Friday, September 26

Exergaming 101 - Active Gaming Explained

SlideShare Presentation.

Exergaming is a fitness technology to improve engagement and enjoyment of physical activity in school, gym, home or even the office.

This presentation explains the concepts and reasoning behind this emerging industry and gives practical advice for end users and providers alike.

Slide 1: exergaming 101

Slide 2: where did exergaming come from?

Slide 3: changes in play • creative physical activities • includes incidental exercise • computer and video gaming • makes play inactive

Slide 4: how does exergaming work?

Slide 5: gaming with exercise • games are fun • exercise gives fitness • exergaming is defined • addresses a problem

Slide 6: what attributes does an exergame need?

Slide 7: exergame cornerstones • engage – variety of games • access – varying abilities • sustain – changeable games • social – online multi-player

Slide 8: how can exergames be used with youngsters?

Slide 9: opportunities for phys-ed • unstructured play • structured training • exergaming competition • reward based

Slide 10: what do exergames do for the adult generation?

Slide 11: grown up exergaming • next-generation lifestyle • office based exergaming • next-generation consoles • exergaming tournaments

Slide 12: why are exergames being adopted?

Slide 13: gateway effect • increased physical ability • improved sports skill • boosted self confidence • natural progression in activity

Slide 14: reach the next level (tm)

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Wednesday, September 24

What's New in Fitness Technology

The Major Movers Revealed!

Sports Development Week hosted the Major Moves '08 Conference from SportEX this week and the topic was using technology for fitness. The delegates were focused on the future of fitness and all presentations held a common theme - technology motivates.

The latest and newest technology was Gamercize. With a design patent of 2004 it should be understood the newness comes from the 2008 games being played with Gamercize!

In product terms, there is no beating the latest video game releases for engagement, and therefore no beating Gamercize, supporting all these titles with added exercise. The news of the conference came not from products, but from two presentations.

Dr Alasdair Thin's very active segment showed the delegates what elements need to be measured in exergame research to make the gold standard of integrity. Studies from England would benefit from these ethics before being submitted as news!

The presentation that exercised the mind was Biray Alsac's keynote on web technology and how it is invigorating fitness. Community power is certainly leading the way for motivation and the interconnectivity of various flavours of website ensures that the community is not restricted to a single implementation. Where does that sound familiar?

After the conference Alsadair and Biray put presentation into practice by jumping on the Gamercize equipment, to play the latest version of Pro Evo Soccer. This picture therefore represents the major movers in fitness technology today.

Sunday, September 21

Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis (N.E.A.T.) :: Explained

Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis is the key concept behind a healthy lifestyle.

Is is not going to the gym, it is not Wii Fit, it is not getting up at 5am to go for a run before work. That is Exercise Activity Thermogenesis.

Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis doesn't feel like exercise, and it's benefits for weight loss and fitness are far greater.

Unless you go to work with a bow and arrow to hunt your evening meal, then this video is for you, and will explain how to build a NEAT lifestyle.

Wednesday, September 17

97% of Teens are Potential Exergamers

Video games provide the next generation in fitness!

A survey of video game behaviour was carried out for 12-17 year olds in the US, and reports the following.

  • 97% Are gamers.

  • 65% Are social gamers.

  • 80% Play five or more game types.

I'm pleased to see the emphasis on the positive aspects of video gaming. The almost universal appeal of gaming is a prefect foundation for exergames, it shows that if the fitness industry want to connect with teens then these games are the right level you can do it!

I've been connecting on this level as the core principle of Gamercize and these figures are a prefect confirmation we have it right, well 97% right! We are 100% right on supporting Xbox 360, PLayStation 3 and Nintendo Wii though, just so we can be perfect on something!

Notice that kids do not stick with one video game type, let alone a single title. As an exergame a single genre or a single title will not cut it. I've been advocating this with Gamercize supporting every type of inactive video game, and I'm 80% right here, our survey says.

Other exergaming options, that only support one console, or only one type of video game obviously can't get to the 97% we can, but none the less, the figures are great news for the industry. The only slight issue being while 99.99% of teenagers know about games consoles, the number who know about the exergame industry (as a whole, not just Wii Fit!) is probably less than 5%.

It's also interesting to draw on my experience too, before taking the potential market to 97% - I have found it's not just kids who want to lose weight, nor kids that want to excel in sport that take to exergaming. Almost every teen who has tried Gamercize for themselves loves the idea of being active, they just don't need a reason and that's probably just as well - getting a straight answer out of a teenager is never easy!

Monday, September 15

Home Fitness and the Credit Crunch

As money gets tighter, exercise will get closer to home.

You can't open a paper or hit a news feed without hearing all about company collapses or a credit crunch effect of some description. In this climate it could be that exergaming is the answer to save a few pennies while making sure your long term health doesn't suffer a shortfall.

If you don't know about exergames then you should know the fitness benefits of exergames like Gamercize are roughly equivalent, hour for hour, to a moderate workout in the gym. Gamercize additionally motivates you to exercise longer through the entertainment value of video games. The indoor workout through exergames has a place in any active and healthy lifestyle.

We are all familiar with outdoor activity but now we have to bring realism in, fuel costs, less spare cash and rising prices. Heading out to the gym or even a long drive to the country is becoming less affordable. Even the thought of buying new shoes or equipment for your chosen sport or activity is a bigger consideration than last year.

Gamercize has a one-off cost that brings years of entertaining fitness through today's games to next years chart topping titles. It is starting to look like the most attractive option when budgets are tight. The cost of such home exergaming equipment is roughly the same as a couple months of gym membership or a good pair of running shoes.

As cost of traditional fitness activities becomes more of a challenge, the world of exergaming has much to offer by providing low cost, convenient workouts at home. After the slow down, when the economy picks up, exergamers will be ready to take their physical abilities back into the leisure industry.

Sunday, September 14

Intellectual Property - How Patents Work

Keep original ideas protected!

There's a odd little feature with this blog I didn't realise for a long time, you can find out where traffic is coming from. This is handy because it shows search terms used to arrive here, and so helps me choose topics and fine tune content.

The most obvious searches are "fitness technology", "motivational workout", "physical activity in school", "desk exercise" and all the other topics I have covered with Gamercize. There was one search that caught my eye: "gamercize patent find". While I have mentioned patents before I have not given anyone any tips from my experiences.

Gamercize is protected by international patents and registered trademarks. Here is the first tip - if you have a great idea, only tell one person - a patent attorney. Your patent application may fail if you let the whole world know before you application has been accepted, as the idea is no longer unique, but now in the public domain.

The second tip - Never try to navigate the patent "world" yourself, there are about 4-5 stages (all requiring cash!) and any slight problem is best dealt with by your attorney, who will speak the same language as the officials. In any case the patent attorney will draft your patent to best protect your idea, being unambiguous and giving the maximum defence for your property and hard work.

My next advice is only to patent design concepts - as done with Gamercize. To patent a specific product is a waste of money. No one will make an exactly copy of your product, unless done fraudulently, which will no doubt also breach your registered trademarks. When you have your cast iron application come back as a searched and granted patent there is one very important thing to do next.

My last and best tip - Insure your patent. You wouldn't take the ownership papers of a house and then not insure that house - the same is true for patents. Now you have the intellectual property proven, you should seek to have it enforceable by a insurance policy from a reputable company. Now, if there is an infringement on your patent - you don't have to worry about finding money to take the case to court. Most policies run to hundreds of thousands in cover, so you don't have to be concerned about a big corporation taking your ideas.

Be careful, get advice from professionals, and your patents will be protecting your property - at a price!

Thursday, September 11

Video Game Fitness for Gears of War 2 - Reviewed

Exercise with your favorite game!

This video review is from Megan Lee's gaming fitness blog, and her personal choice of game was "The Simpsons". She also shows how you can use the Gamercize Power Stepper while working or surfing the net with your PC; it's pretty useful and informative stuff.

I've mentioned before that you can lose 10 lbs per video game completed with Gamercize, so I guess Megan has a little way to go yet before the ending scene of the Simpsons video game! If you have played this game to the end then you'll know it's a funny ending, similar to the Men In Black movie, and well worth seeing. Don't cheat and look it up on YouTube, play the game!

My personal favorite game changes from month to month, from racing games to sports games. I'm still using Gamercize with the choice of the day, as I am into a weight management mode, having lost the pounds I needed to. My next favorite game is sure to be Gears of War 2, which will be released in November ready for my winter workout. Gears is compelling enough for me to keep the fitness levels up at a time that normally has activity on hold. I'm taking the point in Megan's video review that is made well - you can play any game and it works!

Thursday, September 4

Wii Fit - The Death of Video Game Exercise?

The single biggest event in exergames could be the last.

The public and media have picked up Wii-Fit as the iconic exergame - combining video games with exercise, but has the frenzy gone too far and put people off the idea of exergaming altogether?

When the Wii was first announced it was brilliant news for the industry. A huge multi-national company waking the world up to combining video games and exercise. The industry was young and needed the big cash boost of publicity and advertising awareness Nintendo could offer. The fighting between Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo over the newest consoles furthered the interest of the press and public and things could not have been brighter.

Video game exercise is synonymous with Nintendo in the public eye, to the point that the XaviX system was tested recently, and did rather well, but this reported as a Nintendo success by the British media. It does appear Nintendo have cast a big shadow over the entire industry, which while it started off well in raising awareness could now be a bad thing.

So, Wii Fit is released. Here is why I loved it; I bought one, used it a couple of times, sold it on eBay for way more than I paid for it - and used the proceeds of the sale to buy Super Mario Smash Bros Brawl and Mario Kart Wii, with exercise provided by my Gamercize Power Stepper. Way better games and way better exercise.

I wasn't really that keen on the Wii Fit because I found it a little boring compared with the games I could have been playing in the small time I had. There is nothing wrong with Wii Fit, if that's what you want, but do people in general really understand what it is?

How many people really buy a Wii Fit thinking they can embark on a new healthy lifestyle taking extra exercise, paying attention to what they eat and monitoring progress with Wii Fit? How many people buy Wii Fit because it's hot, its what everyone's talking about, it's hard to find and oh, it has something to do with games and fitness - that must be good, right?

When I hear that 6 of 10 people use Wii Fit once and never again, I'm not that surprised, but I am a little concerned. Nintendo have waved the banner of video games and exercise across the worlds media and then given us something that doesn't really do either very well.

My question is this. If millions have only seen exergaming as Wii Fit and the love affair ends the first time it is used; how many of these people will embrace the same idea when advertised at a fraction of Nintendo's budget and without intensive world wide press coverage?

Maybe the industry should step up and get moving towards global certification of products or be a point of reference for definition on what each product can and can't do? The trouble is the only force in the industry big enough to achieve these goals at the moment is Nintendo itself. So, how about it Mr Satoru Iwata?

Tuesday, September 2

A Major Move to Fitness

Fitness Technology Explained

This month marks a turning point for the UK with sportEX bringing the Major Moves Conference 08 to Sports Development Week. Although Gamercize has been at conferences and exhibitions in the UK for over two years now, we have always been a lone voice promoting real fitness technology remaining bolted on the side of traditional fitness.

The voices have multiplied, starting with sportEX Health bringing fitness technologist Biray Alsac as a keynote speaker. I met Biray in August at the Games for Health's Exergaming Retreat where she gave the techno-savvy audience a lot of useful information on the mystical "Web 2.0". I can honestly say everyone went away with a list of ideas and useful websites that we would not have gained without Biray. I am looking forward to learning more and will take better notes this time!

Now with the social marketing covered, it is time to get into the reality of fitness technology, and who better to do this than Dr Alasdair Thin, who gained significant respect in active gaming through his independent and impartial research into Eyetoy Kenetic. Companies may commission research for marketing purposes but Alasdair's experience and commitment have yet to be copied. I have spent many long phone calls across the border so visiting Birmingham on the 23rd will save a lot off the phone bills!

Taking fitness technology to the natural progression of implementation, there is Andrew Smith from the Hampshire Primary Care Trust speaking. Hampshire is a very special county in the UK for active gaming and fitness technology. Through the Active Southampton initiative Hampshire has public gyms offering Gamercize active gaming. Through the School Sport Partnership it has primary schools with Gamercize exergaming steppers. Embracing this technology brings it's own rewards and Hampshire public gyms takes two of the three top spots in the rigorous QUEST awards with amazing scores.

Any one of these speakers brings a glimpse into the future of fitness innovation, but three in the same conference makes the event unmissable. I am also looking forward to hearing from Tor Davies, who managed to bring all of these people together in one conference and had the vision to dedicate to fitness technology.

There will also be a surprise at the conference from Gamercize to keep delegates involved, interactive and motivated. As an end-to-end insight into fitness technology I have not seen a better mix, so make a space in your diary on September 23rd to visit the NEC at Birmingham. Check out the Major Moves website to book a place, don't miss it or you'll have to wait a year to get the low-down on the future of fitness.

Thursday, August 28

Flexible Technology for Physical Education

Which is better, Structured or Unstructured PE?

When looking for exergaming to supplement existing physical education there are many choices. It is all too easy to be taken in by a wow factor; but evaluation should be made just as carefully as for traditional activity.

Electronics alone don't make great fitness activities, if they did then calculators could be used in PE! What makes great activities are people - the professional teachers, trainers, instructors who supervise physical education.

It should go without saying that exergames should be tools for the professionals, and be flexible enough to be used as the instructor deems appropriate. If a goal of PE is to raise the fitness of the whole class, and that means engaging everyone, no matter what their current ability.

Unstructured PE has the advantage that individuals can apply varying effort, so all abilities can be engaged. Take team sports as an example. Each player has a part to play but is free to make individual choice and apply effort of varying degrees to match their ability.

Gamercize achieves unstructured PE easily as only physical activity is required to participate, and the level of activity does not relate to in game performance or achievement. Students can take turns to play a popular video game while others participate with the social activity of spectating.

Structured PE can be used to boost individuals performance through bettering achievements of personal bests or finishing position. Running races are a good example, as the time run can be used for recording individual performance and gives everyone the motivation to finish in a higher place than last time.

Gamercize has the ability for instructors themselves to individually raise the minimum effort required to participate to physically challenge some students. Couple this with competition in gaming and the PE becomes structured and effort based.

To use exergaming effectively the most important component is the professional delivering the class. Gamercize shows how flexibility in exergaming can be used in both unstructured physical play and highly structured sports competition.

So which is better, structured or unstructured PE? I can't answer that, neither can an exergame, the only person qualified to decide is the one with the professional qualification - and the role of the exergame, is to be flexible enough to support that decision.

Thursday, August 21

BBC Sport - Olympics on World News

Be Interactive in your Fitness Training!

Watch the coverage of the Gamercize PC-Sport and check out some other fitness advice for interactive Olympic coverage addicts from BBC Sport here!

Don't switch off after the Gamercize segment, or you'll miss the five-ringed Olympic bicycle - or should that be quincycle?

My Games is an interactive TV show, broadcast live on BBC World News throughout the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Monday, August 18

Can Video Games be an Olympic Sport?

If so does it need to involve exercise?

There are many Olympic events that require skill only, and are not based on physical exertion. So there is a fair point that if air pistol shooting can be a recognised event, then why not Rainbow Six? The skills for both are very different but some would say R6 edges out in front for skill. Could there therefore be the chance of London 2012 hosting the first gaming disciplines?

I think that there is very little chance for video games on their own to become recognised as sport, but with Gamercize there is a better chance. Adding physical effort to a skillful game and raising the bar could make the difference. We have seen this getting great coverage and response for our event. But, just for now, let's see how video games get on in their own right.

Vote in the poll on at
that puts the question to the public - Can Video Games be an Olympic Sport?

Sunday, August 17

International Exergame Championship

UK vs USA Video from BBC and NBC TV Coverage


Check back for news on the next tournament with more countries, more players, more games and more fitness. Start training with Beijing 2008 for Xbox 360 and PS3 now and maybe you can make the team and represent your country.

Friday, August 1

The Future of Exergaming

A Reality Check on Active Gaming.

There are more exergaming profiteers than experts and I'm sure you'll get a different view from both camps. I wince every time I see the total at the gas pump, so I'm certainly not in the former group!

As technology improves there is an increase in the application of video game technology, as a replacement of traditional sports and exercise. The virtual jogging, tennis, video game racing bikes and full motion simulators are good examples of these. What do these virtual reality exergames add compared with actually getting outside and experiencing sport and exercise for real?

A few reports have surfaced in the media recently that show I'm not alone in thinking real is best, and a few studies have been completed that even question the exercise benefits of virtual approach. For sure there is a place in nursing homes and rehab for some of this technology, but that is because the patients simply are not able to "Just Do It" for real.

I think there is diminishing future in the approach of taking participation away from sport and exercise to be replaced by exergames. My view has always been the approach that exergaming should add, not take away. This is why Gamercize adds exercise to existing video games and why we create new sports that are impractical to replicate in the real world.

I have estimates that, in the last six years, we have hit a grand total of 1,000,000 hours of sedentary video gaming. Can anyone really argue that real tennis, biking and jogging should be replaced by less healthy electronic alternatives? Can anyone really argue against adding fitness to these million hours of gaming instead?

I think the future of exergaming is to fix that one sedentary issue of gaming, and not in poor copies of real sports and exercise.