Tuesday, July 03, 2012

The Future of Exergaming May be Bright, But The Present is Less Than Dim

I think it's pretty clear now. We should be taking the "Exer" off the word "Gaming".

While I've no doubt there are a few folks out there who can truly work up a sweat gaming, the studies that have been published to date have demonstrated exergaming outcomes that would be generously described as lackluster.

But I have hope. In fact a huge amount of hope in that I think the future of exergaming is not only incredibly bright, but I think it's nearly here.

What I'm expecting we'll see in the next few years is a convergence of technologies. GPS and accelerometry along with augmented reality and powerful peripherals like smartphones, devices such as the as yet unreleased Google glasses and devices specifically built as active gaming platforms. The first generation of this sort of convergence already exist (see my review for the amazing iPhone running app - ZombiesRun!) and truly, as an ex-gamer myself, can't wait for the future where I think these sorts of technological convergences will make exercising incredible fun.

We're all consumers of time, kids too, and if we ever want to see people truly getting a sweat on gaming, the games are going to have to be varied, immersive, and not relegated to a traditional television based console like that photo up above. The fun quotient just isn't high enough to sustain the behaviour. As consumers of time we decide the time spent on those sorts of games just isn't worth the limited pleasure derived from them. Good news is that the technology to make the time more valuable already exists - it just needs a bit more polish.

Can't wait!

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  1. Anonymous9:49 am

    I think some new games can be used as a part of your personal physical activity routine if you choose to participate correctly. I have an xbox kinect, which I think is too new to have studies done with it, but it is very physical and a very good cardio workout if you play continuously. In order to succeed at the games, you need to do things like lift your knees higher when running on the spot, jump higher, etc. There really isn't a way to 'cheat' like there is on some of the other game systems. Even my 'body building' brother-in-law was winded after playing a game (seems he needs to focus on more cardio).

  2. Theresa9:51 am

    Ive just sent my second child off to her first full time job after high school graduation and found myself pondering what kept our family from being as active as we should have been. Finances was the biggest stumbling block. One family income, three small girls and many bills......groceries or swimming pool? Power bill or bikes? It was very oppressive and most times the slip n slide or playground was all we could afford. All the school sports had added user fees to be on the team. If there is to be a positive impact on fitness we need to find a way to make access for lower income people who are NOT on assistance. It is a shame.

  3. I think you've been reading the wrong studies! The results for Gamercize (as pictured) are very different from the wii-search you elude to! See http://gamercize.blogspot.com/p/active-gaming-research-projects.html

  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

    1. Brett, I think your pride in your product is great - that said, I don't think we should be using our school gyms to play video games. I think we should be using them to teach kids how to play sports, how to move their bodies through space, and how to be healthfully competitive. I guess what I'm saying is that there's should be more to gym class and exercise than a step machine, a controller and a few television consoles and that from a home based perspective the likelihood of your setup leading to long term sustained use seems doubtful.

  5. The lacklustre results you speak of are not in relation to quality exergames but in relation to most all studies done on Nintendo Wii games or games 'using' the Wii platform. The Gamercize shown in your picture has outstanding results. It is a commercial grade solution designed for the rigours of school environment also unlike the Wii.

    We use a 12 player wireless step platform dance system in instructor led group fitness classes with results comparable to ANY current group fitness activity (calories burnt up to and over 550 per hour). Our 'family oriented' and cross generational classes include people such as Cheryl at a 'young' 65 years old (TEN one hour sessions per week!!)to Jasmin at 10 who does 2 sessions per week with her dad who is in his 40's and so on!

    The Nintendo Wii is NOT exergaming, it is AN Exergaming platform. There are a multitude of domestic and commercial exergaming solutions out there which have enormous 'current' benefits both cognitively and physically.

    To Theresa, our pricing is extremely accessible with $15.00 for a family price which allows up to 10 sessions per week. Exergaming can be VERY affordable, EXTREMELY effective and these quality solutions are available NOW!

  6. This comment has been removed by the author.

    1. You mean the reply where you just deleted your original and moved it below my reply?

    2. My second reply which was removed within 10 - 15 minutes of my posting it. It contained details which lay dangerously close to facts which substantiate the credibility and sustainability of exergaming. Much of the 'stuff' omitted from opinionated blog sites.

  7. Anonymous3:54 am

    When I was in school, both first and secondary, I was not great at sport. Because I wasn't overly great at it (coupled with the fact I was into video games at a time when they were still considered a very "nerdy" past-time) I was never given much motivation to be more physically active - team sports nearly put me in tears as I was always delegated as far away from the action as possible because I wasn't physically built for sport (being short and needing glasses also makes most sports extremely difficult to play). Had their been such products around like Dance Dance Revolution (one of THE most effective exergaming products available) or like those seen in the picture above, and had they been employed in schools alongside traditional sports, I am confident that myself and a large generation of similar children would have found themselves far more interested in physical activity.

    In reading your reply to the comment above, the sad thing is that most gym classes are pretty much just that, a few pieces of machinery or equipment in a row with a stereo and an instructor in front of the class repeating pretty much the same routines. Boring! I have been involved in various exergaming activities and it is far more interesting: Sure you might look at a screen, but you have interactive feedback monitoring exactly how well you're doing, pushing you to improve your score and encouraging friendly competition with others for the highest score.

    The fact that I have several pieces of exergaming equipment in my house that I used daily where exercise bikes used to collect dust, and the fact that pretty much everyone I've introduced to exergaming has become hooked on it when other exercise mediums have failed suggests there is a strong potential for these products.