Wednesday, October 13

Active Gaming Critique - Myths Busted

What's wrong with exergaming?

When I saw that PE Central was putting together a list of exergaming objections I thought it would be an interesting read, and it was. I've long maintained that simple miss-representation of exergaming as purely Wii Sports or Wii Fit has given rise to many of the objections.

Let's take a look at each of the common quibbles in turn, widen the population, figure out the origin and see if Gamercize measures up. Here's the list

1) Just go outside and play
This objection is around a general dislike of the idea of exergaming without a logical reason. It comes down to not specific exergames but a view that "back in my day". Well back in your day you had rickets and slavery, so let's move on....
Gamercize "Kids are playing sedentary games already, just use Gamercize to make them active games, your heart can't tell the difference between outdoors or indoors, if it could then people wouldn't get fit in a gym."

2) Why would we encourage more screen time?
Screen time is seen as bad - that's because there's no activity and screen time is shown to be linked with obesity. The key here is lack of understanding and knowledge about exergaming (in this case visit The Exergame Network!)
Gamercize "Make bad screen time into active screen time, you can do this with Gamercize playing video games or on the computer."
3) Traditional physical activity is better than technological physical activity!
This objection comes right out of Nintendo's back pocket. There has been so many studies that show Wii Sports or Wii Fit as little more exercise than a short walk to the cake shop. There's no denying the benefits of traditional physical activity, but if exergaming had comparable calorie burns then this objection wouldn't be anything like as strong.
Gamercize "Wii is not much exercise, and can always be cheated to be almost no effort at all. Not so with Gamercize, that is 4 times more exercise then the most strenuous of Wii activity and on a par with swimming or soccer!"

4) Active gaming breaks the piggy bank
This objection has a focus on schools and the mismatch in costs between traditional and exergaming. It's a fair point. However, comparing exergaming against, say, a gym membership - you're quids in to go electronic!
Gamercize "In most PE catalogs, Gamercize is the lowest cost option. Given the sustainability (and therefor utilization) is unrivalled, it's the cheapest option over time"
5) Active gaming takes up too much space
This objection comes from fixed based exergames need a whole room to be dedicated. These are the big commercial installations that'll take a day to install. Remember when "back in your day" computers needed a whole room? Now exergaming can be mobile, and that's good news to share it around facilities!
Gamercize "The Gamercize Mini-Pod is ideal for mobile applications, but bear in mind the space a Gamercize stepper takes up - about 1/3 of that required for a Wii Sports player, nice and neat!"
6) Durability and service is problematic
One big issue with exergaming is who fixes it? I'm no so sure where this objection comes from, but one issue could be using equipment that was designed for home use in a heavy use environment - a fabric dance mat for example lasts mere days in a school.
Gamercize "In six years we have had one failure of a Gamercize unit, and that was replaced even though it was a year outside warranty. Our exercise machines pass the required standard by a factor of 20, and yes, we test against standards for heavy use, including schools."

7) Children will get bored
Hello Nintendo, see you're back again. Yes, this is the old Wii in the cupboard objection. The novelty wears off and the fun runs out. There are alternatives to Wii Sports and Wii Fit!
Gamercize "Kids don't get bored of video games, and these exact same video games are what is behind every Gamercize. We use the games that keep you interested. What's more that gives better flexibility to engage many different people - you want to play Pac Man on the PC? You got it! Gears on the Xbox? We're playing too... there is no limit with Gamercize and it's all active!"
I think you can see from that list that not all exergames are created equal, and it looks to me that Gamercize has ticked most of the boxes! Now take a look at the original responses to these issues at Huge thanks to PE Central and Lisa for bringing up the points.

Monday, October 11

Smart Thinking Inside The Box

The Future is Now

How many times have you heard the phrase "think outside the box"? This is a fine phrase to ask people to expand the boundaries of thought process in search of solutions to long standing problems.

Thinking outside the box has given rise to the trend of reducing sedentary activity and increasing voluntary physical activity with exergaming. The concept of using the "enemy" of fitness to actually promote and improve fitness could never have been arrived at with conventional thinking. So it's good to think outside the box? Yes, but there's a limit. When thinking is done, it's time for the doing.

This is what I mean by thinking inside the box. The physical activity innovation exergaming has now been bought inside the "box" - so let's think about using it, start the "doing". Constantly thinking of new ideas is great, for example Xbox Kinect and PlayStation Move, but hang on, where's the justification and credibility of exergaming? What successes have we had so far, and is it enough?

The success of the Wii is not in doubt, selling more units than you can shake a wii-mote at, but is that success in physical activity? Not really. From my experience there's not been successful, sustainable, repeatable implementations of Wii in homes or schools (outside of obvious commercial success). How do we change that?

It's pretty clear from the research into energy expenditure and sustainability that we can get a better base for real implementation. This is what we are doing with Gamercize, from a base of promising data from studies we're looking into wrapping product with the process - in a schools programme.

To do this we need to think inside the box, look at what we have, use our experience, look at what it does and then figure out the best way to use it. In the next few months schools and teachers will be preparing to unleash this new thinking on the children of London, and those kids are sure going to have fun! Watch this space for progress updates!