Group exergaming in teams? Gamercize shows you how!
One of the main advantages of linked play in exergaming is that it's a safe and controllable environment for users such as schools and clubs. Linked play gives equal levels of engagement of online play, with the simplicity in technology of single player mode. It's like the racing video games you see in arcades, with four cars next to each other, everyone gets a screen but the play is linked in the game.
Here's what you need to get exergaming in linked mode, using the Xbox 360 as an example. First you'll need a suitable Gamercize setup, and double it. A good configuration is a screen, Xbox 360 and 2x Gamercize Pro-Sport Power Steppers. Now double that. Arrange the screens and stations back to back if possible. The advantage of linked play over two player (also known as co-op) mode is that the screen real estate is not split, and each screen is hidden from the other team!
You will also need two Xbox 360 titles that are compatible with "system link", one for each Xbox. The game needs to support this function and as with every Gamercize experience - the game is the most important factor, so spend some time to get this right and do a little research (for some ideas check out http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Xbox_System_Link_games). The Xbox uses the term "system link" for linked play, here's the symbol to look out for on the back of the box;
The last thing you'll need is a connection between the two Xbox'es. Some people call this a network cable, RJ45, Ethernet cable or patch cable. It's the type of cable that plugs into the back of your computer at work. There is a port for this on the back of the Xbox, which is normally used to plug into the network for online play, but using it to link two Xbox'es together doesn't need help from IT, doesn't need ports open on the firewall and presents no risk associated with "online chat" etc. Plug the same lead into both consoles. This is what the port looks like (highlighted in the red box below).
You are all set to go! Now you can play the same game on both stations, but linked! For the next part, playing the game, you will need the help of another person. Using the same title in each Xbox start stepping (or cycling if you are using the Gamercize Endurance Cycle) to activate the controllers. If you have not set up gamer profiles for you Xbox, do this now (yes, you have to keep stepping while you do this, it's exergaming!).
In the main game menu there will be an item similar to, if not actually reading as "linked play", sometimes this is a sub-menu under a main menu item of "multiplayer". With BOTH stations at this point in the game it will be possible to set up a game where both are playing against each other.
There's often the chance to set up MORE than two stations in system link, this concept is readily seen in Major Leauge Gaming competitions, but we start to get a little more complicated as an eithernet hub is required. If you are interested in this option take a look at the Xbox knowledge base (and tell them Gamercize sent you!) http://support.xbox.com/en-us/pages/xbox-360/troubleshoot/kb/xbox-kb.aspx?kbid=910583
A great title to try this with would be a soccer game. Both stations can have two players, creating a 2 on 2 scenario where tactics and co-operation are the ultimate winners of the competition. Games that also have "plays" that can be selected also work very well, with the added advantage that the opposing team can't see what play you have selected, just like real life!
If you do get stuck, go back to basics, make sure you have the connections right and get some teenagers to figure it out for you! Have fun, keep fit and enjoy!