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.