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!


Dr. Ernie "Exergaming Evangelist" Medina, Jr. said...

What game was Lisa playing???

gamercize @ said...

In this picture we were setting up the Xbox and a gamertag while also having fun demonstrating how Gamercize works in the flesh. We then went to get some Xbox games: Madden NFL 09, Viva Pinata Party Animals, Banjo-Kazooie and Lego Batman!