Monday, June 2

Making Exergaming Engaging for All

Where's the game in Exergame?

There is a lot of research being planned for exergames this year and next, over $2m in funding has been released so far. There will be a lot of work on intervention, that is to say, does the exergame actually deliver what is required. I have already covered making exergames sustainable and accessible but not yet addressed the key aspect of if an exergame can engage individuals.

The exergame audience is, oddly enough, not a tiny minority of people that desire fitness through video games but a vast majority of people. Recent developments with Wii Fit have shown the demand, although it is hard to know how much is genuine interest and how much is reaction to strong marketing. This one implementation is not for everyone, and highlights the problem of engagement.

The appeal of video games is widespread so exergames should be perfectly placed to put extra activity into people’s lives. In order to engage such a large audience in video gaming over 10,000 individual game titles have been created for the 250 million video game consoles sold worldwide. Imagine if only 100 games had been produced over the twenty years, and all of them just variations on a single same game play theme. Would console gaming be so engaging? Probably not!

There are enough racing based exergames available for me to use this as my example without singling out one machine or manufacturer. Between 10-15% of video games sales a year are racing games, which is not a high engagement rate for racing based exergames. Even adding the novelty of exergaming may increase the engagement, but interest through novelty is unlikely to be long lived. Gamercize can also be used with racing games, but we recognise a single genre is not enough to engage everyone.

The key interaction between exercise and video games with Gamercize is the minimalist approach of exercise and play, or stop and pause. This allows us to support tens of thousands of games, over all genres and for all consoles without diminishing game play. No matter what video game you enjoy you can become engaged in video game exercise with Gamercize.

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