Monday, April 19

Exergaming - "Just a Toy"

Companies Cashing In or Checking Out?

I've just read an interesting review on Game People about a new stationary exergaming bike for the Wii. I'll not point it out directly, go find it if you like, but there's a wider principle at stake here, not with just one product but a few rotten apples.

The principle is using the good reputation of what others have done before them in exergaming just to try and make a quick buck - leaving the consumer completely conned. There's no point in a poorly built, undersized gaming bike that has no resistance, it's just a toy. There's no benefit of using something for fitness or weight loss that simply cannot work at all. If you wanted a fun, physical gaming experience, you'd be playing Wii Sports Resort instead.

I have seen companies come in to the industry and try to pull the wool over consumers eyes, despite high street presence - they jog off as quickly as they come. There's no competition for us at Gamercize because we promote proper exercise combined with real games; but there is still damage done, as bad products turn people off the idea of exergaming because of poor experiences. It's a wasted opportunity for health improvement and a constant source of irritation for the quality exergaming companies who then have to try to compensate for the bad industry PR.

There's a lot of marketing and advertising budgets in these boom or bust companies, and this media is unfortunately what drives peoples purchasing decisions. The key to exergaming is to create a successful experience, not advertising ROI. How can this situation be resolved? As venture capital and seed funds see the success of Nintendo they'll still pile investment into a weak idea or implementation.

You cannot stop this but maybe what you can do is - help consumers make a better informed decision. This is already being started by The Exergaming Network - a group of advocates, researchers and industry professionals who are dedicated to proper implementation and positive experiences in exergaming. Bring it on!

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