As a precursor to the upcoming Games for Health event in Boston we sat down with Professor Stephen Yang of SUNY Cortland, NY to discuss the potential benefits of active gaming and why he see’s it to be such a valuable tool.

1.      What made you choose to work with Exergaming?

Exergaming came to me after teaching many years at the school and college levels.  Seeing youngsters engaging in moderate and sometimes vigorous physical activity was a no-brainer.  As a teacher, you use numerous methods to engage the learner and exergames are no different than using a theme-based game/unit or a different piece of equipment.

2.  With the rise in childhood obesity and type II diabetes in youngsters, do you feel that Exergaming is a step in helping to solve the problem with our society?  If so, why?

If exergaming is supported in the schools, at home, and in the community….then it has the potential to positively impact physical activity levels. However, there also needs to be a concerted effort to improve nutrition and eating habits if real change is to occur.

3.  Most active gaming equipment can be rather pricy.  Are there alternatives to purchasing equipment such as creating your own, and are there grants out there for a teacher/educator to help add these types of equipment into his/her physical education program?

-PEP Grants

– Technology grants within school districts as well as National Grants (e.g. Obama Administration’s support of using video and computer games in education)

– Foundation grants

– Private sponsorship (e.g insurance HMO like the one that supported the WVU DDR study)

4.  Do you feel that there should be more advocacy for making Exergaming equipment more affordable for families in their homes or is getting and “Active Gaming experience” at school good enough for children?

Definitely more advocacy is needed.  We are all trying to do our part on numerous levels.  See Games for Health, Exergames Unlocked, www.exergamefitness.com, www.exergamelab.blogspot.com

5.  As an educator, personally, is there a certain type or brand of Exergaming equipment/device that you think would be best for a class size of 20-30 students?  If possible, please explain how a typical 40 minute lesson would run for Active Gaming.

In Physical Education, we strive to provide a positive learning environment that supports the needs and the abilities of all of our students and not just the average skilled. A typical lesson would depend on which unit the students are engaged in and if the exergame is being used as a supplement/reward to the regular unit (perhaps step class, yoga) or even used as a station within the unit.

Another situation some PE classes face is where only 2 or four students are actively engaged with the game at a time (e.g. DDR for a typical game console – ps2, ps3, xBox 360, Wii).

If all students are using the same piece of equipment (system), it would seem that there are 3 large-scale equipment options iDance (www.positivegaming.com), Cobalt Flux (http://www.exergamefitness.com/blufit.htm), and XerDance.

The typical lesson should look no different than any other well-planned and executed PE lesson. Instant activity, hook, set-induction, safety statement, demo, teaching by invitation, task, cue, challenge, scaffolding,  intratask variation, checking for understanding, practice time, specific congruent feedback, assessment, and closure.

Stephen Yang, B.S, M.S., PhD-ABD
Assistant Professor
SUNY Cortland
www.exergamelab.org
www.exergamelab.blogspot.com