Saturday, April 18

Free FM Pedometer during Games for Health month from Gamercize

It may not be Nike+ and an iPod, but it's free!

To celebrate the fifth annual Games for Health conference in Boston, MA a pedometer with built in FM radio will be bundled free with every Gamercize purchase in June!

The key message for this offer is to support active lifestyles, a commitment Gamercize has made in partnership with the government awareness campaign Change4Life.

Using Gamercize's patented exergaming fitness machines with video games consoles such as Nintendo Wii, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PS2 makes you fitter and more healthy.

Take advantage of your new abilities and increased energy with this offer from Gamercize and listen to your favourite radio station as you take on the ultimate level - the great outdoors.

Gamercize recognises the purpose of exergaming and Games for Health not as just a fun way to be fit but also to bring improved public health to the masses. For more information on Gamercize visit, where this offer will be made official at the end of this month. For more information on Games for Health in general visit

The Games for Health Fifth Annual Conference will be held in Boston between June 11 and 12, with a special pre-conference date of June 10. To book for this event visit

Tuesday, April 7

Exergaming Rocks AAHPERD

Gamercize brings the fire and makes Tampa come alive!

The national physical education show in Florida last week was full of exergaming, not only on the exhibition floor but also in the seminars, poster sessions and workshops. Gamercize was there too, making it all real!

Even before the conference began there was a special NASPE session "Using Technology in Physical Education Teacher Education" in one of the conference hotels. The use of technology to as a tool to make PE teachers life easier included Web 2.0, electronic student response systems and online assessments. Multiple sessions were presented by Derrick Mears (Western Washington University), Lisa Hansen (University of South Florida), Joanne Leight (Slippery Rock University) and Patrick Fine (Chesterfield Elementary School).

The highlight of the pre-conference was an excellent, in-depth presentation by Lisa Hansen on exergaming (Active Gaming) and Interactive Fitness. This started with issues around obesity, the decrease of general levels of physical activity and the role Recreational Screen Time (RST) has to play in this decline. The obvious choice of using technology for fitness instead of against fitness was presented, backed by research.

The most important aspect of the presentation for me was the thinking around implementation, to ensure exergaming is as effective in the real world as it can be proved in the lab. As Gamercize was early to Tampa, available (and portable enough!) this was used as a demonstration piece for a lesson plan to illustrate hands-on the key of the presentation. Using Gamercize and running through the lesson plan showed a subject's (Thanks Allison!!) resting heart rate of around 60 peak at 130 with an average of 120 throughout the 30 minute piece.

Gamercize itself was set up at booth #736 in the exhibition halls and was constantly busy, with word spreading around the delegates to visit our first appearance here! The key aspects of the equipment that rocked the conference are the ability to play any game, and hence get all kids interested, and the minimal interaction of "move to play" that enables all physical abilities to play exergames!

Of course the low cost of the equipment was of huge interest, and a few delegates between them even purchased all the demo equipment right off the booth at the end of the exhibition! This did make break-down much simpler! There is still a 10% discount running at for those that missed out at the show!

The first of the two formal sessions that delivered the exergaming message at the conference was "#351 - A Critical Look at Fitness Technology for Kids" by Dan Drury of Gettysburg College, parent of two and exergame evaluator. This session concentrated on the factors that make exergaming work, Intensity, Duration, Mode, Frequency and Progression.

Both the exercise physiologist view and kids perspective had equal billing to give a presentation that, I think, shook the delegates up to the fact not all exergames are created equal. Giving PE a structured approach to evaluation is an excellent idea and I agreed with the entire piece. I was surprised but happy to see Gamercize images in the presentation as illustrations for some of the points!

The second session that shook the halls of the Tampa Convention Center was "#551 - Exergames: Bridging the Gap between Video Games, Activity and Fun" by Stephen Yang of SUNY Cortland, parent of two and long standing exergame guru. This session focused on doing rather than talking and included short introductions by notables such as John Foley (SUNY Cortland), Lisa Hansen (USF), Andrea Oh (iTech Fitness) and Aaron Hart (Station PE).

The workshop started with brief introductions and key messages from Stephen's team before breaking out into Q and A sessions with the presenters. All the time the students from SUNY Cortland were getting their game on with DDR, Gamercize and Gamebike - while wearing heart rate monitors which were displayed on the big screen!

The common theme for the sessions was - oversubscription! Dan's presentation had delegates sitting and standing in the corridor outside while Stephen's workshop had attendance well beyond the capabilities of the PA system and even had exergaming spilling out into the concourse!
I would like to give special thanks to Lisa and Stephen for allowing Gamercize to be part of their sessions. Ernie, you were missed and would have enjoyed this conference immensely! Now we've set the scene for exergaming in PhysEd at Tampa all we have to do is deliver it to the kids and Let it Rock!

Monday, April 6

Exergaming Ethics

When Good Exergaming goes Bad.

Last week I visited AAHPERD and spoke to a great many delegates, presenters, academics and exhibitors about the state of the exergaming industry in physical education. This particular post deals with just the bad news from the conference.

I went to two poster sessions from students who tested exergaming (in the form of Nintendo Wii) against non-virtual sports. The results were as I expected, exergaming was no substitute for real sports in terms of physical exertion or movement. The surprise was the impression I had from speaking to the researchers - they expected Wii Sports to "win".

Most, if in fact not all, of the people who spoke to me about exergaming at AAHPERD has an equal level is disillusionment with the Wii in physical education. It's not that the Wii is bad, it's in fact very good - but expectations have been set to unrealistic levels. Other exergame vendors are also guilty of this, not necessarily in exertion levels, but more on sustainability. What we need here can be summed by one word : ETHICS.

The other public facing side of exergaming is the service provision companies. I heard about incomplete installations, lack of support, poor equipment choices and generally poor customer service. This concerns me a great deal, as exergaming needs a better reputation than this.

I know money is tight for service companies, and there must be a greater tendency to "cut and run", but it should also be mentioned that money is tight for everyone! The industry is not reacting correctly to provide a better value customer experience. What we need here can be summed by one word : ETHICS.

There are bad exergame companies and there are good ones, these are just the bad. Ask your vendor or supplier "how do your kids find this stuff?". You'll invariably discover, as I have, that the bad eggs don't have direct experience with children! If you're dealing with someone who's not been a teacher or parent - beware!!!

There is no point calling out the names of the products or companies that are operating to short term commercial goals rather than long term ethical ones, because this economic crisis will naturally remove them one by one. Let's not say anything bad about any company in particular - "Nah! Just smile and wave, boys. Smile and wave."

Sunday, April 5

Can games like 'Wii Fit' really work it?

The games that work best will be the ones that are the most fun!

Stephen Yang as contacted by Kim Painter, Senior Health Columnist for USA Today, for comments on how effective exergames are for cardiovascular benefits and overall health. He had a great discussion and here is the article that was just posted online today.

But games that are more demanding, more interactive or both are on the way or already available, says Stephen Yang, assistant professor of physical education at the State University of New York-Cortland. For addictive, calorie-burning fun, Yang recommends Eye Toy Kinetic (for PlayStation2), a workout game that points a camera at the user to track movements and provide instant feedback.

He also likes tween favorite Dance Dance Revolution (for various game systems), which is not marketed as an exercise game but fits the bill. And he directs parents to Gamercize, a British import that connects to any video game system — and keeps it running only as long as the user keeps moving on a mini-bike or step machine.

The future will bring games that track heart rates and keep exercisers working at a challenging but safe pace, he says. Virtual group workouts, with participants connected online to a live coach, will happen, too, he says.

But the games that work best, Yang says, will be the ones that are the most fun.