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.