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.

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