Tuesday, December 7

Top 5 Reasons Kids get Bored of Exergaming

Health and fitness need sustainable interest!

The reason why it is important to keep interest in exergaming is the side effects are improved health fitness and weight management. These benefits don't come overnight, so kids need to be engaged in the long haul.

If you are putting exergaming in front of kids in schools, youth clubs or at home, here's the top reason kids get bored of certain exergames;

1. The "game" is just not fun -
Could you imagine the stereotypical teenage boy putting down his copy of Mario Kart Wii and picking up a copy Daisy Fuentes Pilates? If you can imagine that then - you are sure to make this mistake when implementing exergaming in any setting. The whole point of exergaming is making exercise fun for people that don't like or don't do exercise. Looking for an activity that is engaging and fun for kids is a very easy - video games. Looking for an activity that is physical, engaging and fun is the shortest step away - exergaming (where the game is the focus). Drop those fitness titles, kids find them boring off the bat!

2. Fit kids keep winning -
Ever seen a kid picked last when a PE class is split into teams? The kids last across the line in a running race? Do you think they feel motivated to improve, committed to the team, confident in their abilities? Probably not, so why re-enforce this experience in exergaming? Unfit kids will get bored and disinterested very quickly if they need to bring fitness and skill to the party. Exergaming can be the environment where "un-sporty" kids can succeed in a physical challenge. Exergames that rely on pre-existing skill and conditioning doesn't hold interest for the majority - and that's fast becoming "vast majority" as kids exercise less and weigh more. Forget exergames that are simply electronic sport by any other name.

3. There are no rewards -
In school, there are always objectives, learning objectives, development objectives or some other form of progression. Video games equally are full of progression; scores, trophies, achievements, leader boards, fastest laps, power ups, new levels, bonus content, upgrades, the list goes on. One of the addictive aspects of video games is the objective of progression. Many exergames lack the basic progression design aspect and get very boring after a short period of time. BUT; even with these flawed exergames it's possible to make off-screen rewards and build structure around exergaming in schools and clubs. Exercise buddies, tournaments, cross curriculum learning - there is so much more to exergaming than dropping equipment into a setting and "letting the kids get on with it".

4. There is no variation -
How boring would this blog be if every week I posted the same post? Ok, I'm not saying this blog holds fantastic interest, but I bet I'd lose all 5 readers in 2 weeks without variation. It's common knowledge kids get bored easily. Kids even get bored of a video game... eventually, but they never get bored of their video games console. They can vary the game they play, and that's what keeps them interested. Consider an exergame where you can't update the game - disaster! In a club or school the implementer can prolong the engagement of a single exergame, but not forever.

5. It doesn't work! -
Badly designed exergames rely on hype for sales, not quality experiences, and leave the player frustrated and quickly bored of it. Have you ever watched a broken TV? For how long? (Hopefully less than a few seconds!) The same usability and functionality goals exist in exergaming, if the game controls are too hard, not responsive or just don't work - kids will get bored in an instant. Exergaming is supposed to make exercise easy, and not difficult or frustrating.

What these factors lead to is an investment in fitness technology that gathers dust, moving further and further towards the back of storage.

Do you think you know how to resolve these issues and counteract those reasons? I do, and I'll let you know next week... but for now a clue - exergaming needs to put the "game" first and the "exercize" just needs adding on the end!

1 comment:

Dr. Ernie "Exergaming Evangelist" Medina, Jr. said...

Excellent article, Sir Richard! Will cogitate on these and see what solutions I can come up with. I especially was intrigued by "Fit Kids (still) win" point. I hadn't quite looked at it that way. This can have some ramifications in the games we design (my latest company I'm working in...;-).

Maybe with your points, we will develop exergames that can address all of these issues that you bring up.

I can't wait to see what your answers will be next week! I think I can guess on one solution...;-)