Monday, June 10

Going to Games for Health? USA or Europe?


9th Annual
Games for Health Conference

Back Bay Events Center, Boston MA
June 26-28, 2013!

Register Today!

Sponsorship and exhibit opportunities also remain.
Contact for more information.

Latest schedule up at!
Three Days to Explore...The Role of Videogames in Health & Healthcare
The 9th Annual Games for Health Conference is coming soon. Register today before prices rise and hotel room availability dwindles. Join hundreds of developers, health professionals, researchers, funders, and more at the largest event devoted to games in health & healthcare.

On November 4-5 join us in Utrecht, The Netherlands for the 3rd Annual Games for Health Europe Conference.

For complete details on Games for Health Europe visit:

Founded in 2004, the Games for Health Project supports community, knowledge, and business development efforts to use cutting-edge games and game technologies to improve health and health care. The Pioneer Portfolio of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation is the lead conference sponsor and a major supporter of the Games for Health Project. To date, the project has brought together researchers, medical professionals, and game developers to share information about the impact games and game technologies can have on health, health care, and policy.

A major effort of the Games for Health Project is the annual Games for Health Conference. Over three days, more than 400 attendees will participate in over 60 sessions provided by an international array of 80+ speakers, cutting across a wide range of activities in health and health care. Topics include exergaming, physical therapy, disease management, health behavior change, biofeedback, rehab, epidemiology, training, cognitive health, nutrition, and health education.

Sunday, May 19

Can Exergaming Prove Health Benefits?

Exergaming is by definition "exercise". Combining an exercise component with a video game component. Is it a crazy question to ask if it improves health? Maybe so, and that's not just a difficult question to ask of exergaming, as "health benefits" include complex sets of interactions and variables. In fact it's a crazy question to ask, like "does eating cheerios make your smarter".

Stepping aside from the technology for one moment, consider swimming as a mechanism for improving public health. Swimming is certainly great exercise, working all muscle groups, great cardio and very social too. On the face of it swimming is all set up to improve health. in practice, however, it does not for the majority of the public. Research has shown calorie intake after a session of swimming far outweighs the calories burnt during the session. People get the munchies after a swim.

Equally there's theories, with some solid research backing, that show in the normal course of events introducing a dedicated session of exercise elicits a reduction in pre-existing physical activity. Essentially some unexplained factor compensates for a bout of activity to maintain the bodies average energy expenditure.

Can a study in laboratory conditions "prove" health benefits for any exercise, let alone exergaming? No. What can be proved, to a degree, is energy expenditure levels and activity intensity. Whilst bigger numbers here would seem what we want to see, they only tell part of the story. The new study recommends using active videogaming ('exergaming') to improve children's health, it cannot be definitive.

Not all exergames are equal and not all people enjoy the same games, which is the reason why you may have seen research studies published claiming the opposite findings. We can't prove health benefits, but we can derive the factors that would make exercise sustainable and practical. For most people's money, the subject of the latest study; Kinect, doesn't make the grade in practicality or sustainability.

At Games for Health we all tried out Kinect table tennis. We had the advantage of a huge open area and didn't have to put the coffee table on eBay to make room to play but still the control recognition was so poor it was almost laughable and the game so unplayable it drove us crazy.

There's a reason video games are so popular, because they are not square pegs in round holes. There's a game to suit everyone and to tap into that sustainability is really the only way to get to health benefits. This approach is exactly what makes Gamercize the only true exergame system that's tailored to everyone's needs!

Tuesday, March 19

Where is the Education in P.E for Exergaming?

Active Video Gaming uses in Physical Education

I've just spotted a new comment on a Gamercize YouTube video that opens a critisim of exergaming that a lot of active games struggle to answer - where's the education component? The overriding answer to this question is there is none, as the game is just a tool for the PE teacher to use. However - some games give the teacher more to work with.

Here's the video that was commented on:

The comment says "I like the overall idea and objective of this, but how are kids working on fundamental movement skills and such. Sure this is getting heart rates up, but not actually teaching them any skills or ways to stay active throughout their lives."

Yes, Gamercize does raise HR to moderate to vigorous levels, so that's a tick in the box for physical activity, but what of  the skill component? True, Gamercize is not teaching kids how to catch, but we're looking at more advanced kids - the ones that are engaged by video games.

Gamercize in this implementation is being used to teach

  • Sport strategy - seeing the big picture of team interaction and how tactics can be employed
  • Team play - co-operation and communication between teams of 2 to achieve a sports objective
  • Physiology - which muscles are working and how energy is being created for them 

I'm not a PE teacher, so that is just first impression view and I'm sure those more experience in PE will be able to find different modes of implementation that lever the power of engagement into video games to reach lesson objectives!

As for the second part of the question above, kids are like wind-up toys - just give them the opportunity to get moving and give them a start and they'll keep on moving :)

Friday, February 8

Gamercize Pro-Sport for teaching PE

Check out this great video featuring Gamercize GZ Pro-Sport for Xbox 360 by Zach Fodor

Active Gaming: Gamercize from Zach Fodor on Vimeo.