Thursday, June 25

What's wrong with exergaming? Wii Fit, that's what!

Active Gaming Consumers Still Being Mislead.

I have read Canada's Globe and Mail ever since we were awarded the prestigious accolade of "Most Evil Gadget" back in 2007 and I tend to pick up quite a few exergaming stories from them.

The news that a new 5 year study into exergaming is talking place in Calgary is very welcome although, from experience, there needs to be sustainable exergames in the research! Luckily the Positive Gaming iDANCE (although referred to as Dance Dance Revolution in the caption!) is in the mix so there is some chance of a positive outcome, but to make it a certainty would need to include Gamercize instead of Wii Fit.

If only to prove my point there is commentary from Dr Ian Janssen in the article, who has very negative, but very common, experiences with a very narrow selection of exergames, namely Wii Sports and Wii Fit.

“I don't think it's a good idea to be teaching children to be active this way,” said Ian Janssen, an assistant professor in the community health and epidemiology department at Queen's University in Kingston.

The games have no place in schools, he added.

When Dr. Janssen became aware of Wii Fit and a similar game, Wii Sports, he was intrigued – especially when he saw his nephew playing a vigorous game of virtual tennis. But the feeling soon turned to dismay as his nephew quickly adopted shortcuts; a full tennis swing became a flick of the wrist, for example.

Much of Dr. Janssen's work involves helping to determine how much activity children need to stay healthy. Canadian guidelines recommend that children get at least 90 minute a day more than their current level, he says, at an intensity that's moderate or vigorous (moderate activity should cause you to break a sweat within five to 10 minutes.)

He doesn't think time on Wii consoles should count toward any of those recommended 90 minutes. “To me, the Wii Fit still falls in the category of sedentary behaviour.”

Yes, Dr Janssen, you are 100% right, but I do have the following points in defense of the Wii options. Firstly, Wii Sports is fun, and if you take it seriously with the boxing game, it is exercise. Similarly Wii Fit was never intended to meet and MPVA targets, merely make one aware of their health, but the jogging game is good exercise. Both of these said, Wii Sports is weak on exercise and Wii Fit is short on fun.

There are many more exergaming options out there that have both fun and fitness in the right doses for an anti-obesity prescription - Gamercize as my example puts heart rates right up in the MVPA zone and provides the sustainability that's associated with video gaming the world over.

The take-away point for this post is that if you've been disappointed with the top promoted exergames, consider why there is less hard sell on the others. Maybe it's because these products sell themselves with out the hype? My advice for those that have not found the Wii options appropriate is to take a look at what the console is being used for and read the following article.

1 comment:

anna said...

This is a great post! Although I enjoy the occasional Wii game myself, it simply does not compare to the physical activity that children should be getting, both in school and at home.