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."

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