Expert Sets Guidelines for Improvement
The exergaming world was rocked by criticism following the use of exergaming as a replacement for traditional physical education. The story that originated in the UK has since circulated the globe with criticism from as far away as Australia for not being real exercise and for giving up on sport.
The articles highlighted research stating the console used was only 2 percent more extra effort over sedentary gaming. The odd part is this; the discouraging research came from the same university that praised the equipment via BBC news one year earlier.
If you are not confused by this U turn, you should be. I am used to seeing one research study contradict another, but never from the same source! Both studies did make national BBC news though, not that I am suggesting anything with that statement.
So step in Dean Horridge, from Fit for Sport and most recognised for his work with the TV show "Ian Wright's Unfit Kids" (pictured). In his most recent article he sets out a number of guidelines for schools to follow in order not to fall foul of the hype. I met Dean last year at a trade show, and he's worth listening to. Here is a summary of his tips for setting up a program and product selection to schools;
1. Discuss with kids what they want.
2. Involve the children in your testing.
3. Check suppliers research into activity.
4. Spend wisely, and do not buy without trying.
5. Get trained to use new equipment.
6. Change the sessions often to keep interest.
7. Plan for the long term suitability.
8. Keep safety in mind but maintain enthusiasm.
9. Make sure all kids can participate regardless of ability.
10. Watch out for equipment storage needs.
I have not specifically mentioned any products in the post, because the experience of a failed exergaming program could be applicable to any equipment, no matter how good or bad the machines are.
Obviously choosing equipment where the cardio fitness benefits and sustainability are beyond doubt is the best start - but then again, I would say that!!
Friday, February 29
Expert Sets Guidelines for Improvement
Sunday, February 24
Wii Fit is Actually Designed to Make You Stand Still "I forgot to mention something important earlier: I don’t think Wii Fit’s purpose is to make you fit" said Miyamoto
In a previous post here, I defended Nintendo Wii Sports against the media tide of disillusionment in the value of the game as real exercise. I also added Wii Fit was intended to make you fit but according to Nintendo's Shigeru Miyamoto, who conceived the idea of Wii Fit, I was wrong.
Buried deep in the US site Wii.com, and commented on by Kotaku, he indicated the true purpose of Wii Fit is not to get you fit, but in fact to help you stand still better.
Miyamoto explains, "If you’re standing still, and it tells you 'Your body is swaying', you can see on the training results screen that your body has been shaking."
I still believe that Wii Fit will help you become fitter, because it tracks your weight which will make you aware of the exercise you need to do. Having said that, there is a brain training style feature on Wii Sports to test your fitness age.
We use similar tracking software with Gamercize; the GZ Personal Trainer was released in early 2007 and is accessed online or on a mobile phone, so I do know the importance of tracking health indicators. Recording your weight, BMI, Waist/Hip ratio and resting heart rate and seeing them change over time on the graphs does give added motivation to keep going in the right direction.
The Wii Sports fitness age check, Wii fit in general and the GZ Personal Trainer are all good examples of how technology helps motivation. The only thing that is unclear now is - what is Nintendo's key message for Wii fit to the consumer?
I guess the only way to be sure is to go out any buy one... oh... now I get it!
"I forgot to mention something important earlier: I don’t think Wii Fit’s purpose is to make you fit" said Miyamoto
Saturday, February 23
Thursday, February 14
Gamercize's Wii Power Up
Sunday, February 10
Ask Your Kids What an Exergame is!
The misuse of the term exergaming is not surprising as there is no formal definition in any recognised dictionary. The joining of the words exercise and game could define football, tennis or any sport as an exergame - but the term is being used to group together new and exciting fitness technology.
Some commercial organizations have spotted this market, and misuse the term aggressively to gain credibility and revenue. This is not good practice, but the lack of definition has left the door wide open. Exergaming is a good thing, but it's meaning goes deeper than the joining of two words.
In the last two or three years the realisation that 21st century lifestyles are taking a toll on our health has come into the media spotlight. The traditional pastimes for enjoyment have been replaced by labor saving devices providing huge diversity of entertainment for it's target audience. These labor saving devices, designed to make entertainment convenient and effortless, are video game consoles.
If there is going to be a definition of exergaming then it should reflect the environment that has driven the term to be in common use. Exergames have been born from the use of video games so therefore are themselves video games, but with added exercise.
So is the Nintendo Wii and exegame? Absolutely. Is Sony's Eyetoy an exergame? Most probably. Are Konami's dance mats exergames? The original. Is Gamercize an exergame? Without doubt.
So what is masquerading as an exergame that is not? Flashing lights you hit in sequence. No video game there. Game bikes with hardware graphics from the 70's? Not a chance. I have even seen one company use the term "interactive video game" for a product that does not even have a video screen! These pretenders could be good exercise and they can provide a reasonable amount of fun, but they are not exergames.
Exergames address the social need, they need to be as fun and engaging as a games console but also give physical exercise in a sustainable and safe manner. In my experience the best judge of what makes a true exergame are children. They know when activities are fun and enjoyable. They know what will keep them active and having fun - video games with exercise.
The term exergame is being used by some as an advertising gimmick. Without a video games console and a number of games that can be used - there is no exergame. Do not be fooled.