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ExerGaming Kicks into High Gear with New Study & Product

There was discussion this week on the Serious Games listserv about ME2, a virtual world from Irwin Toy aimed at kids that links to a real world pedometer (tagline: You are the power!). The more exercise, running and walking the kids do in RL, the more points they earn to use in the game. Scott Traylor over at 360KID wrote up the details here.

In other news, a pilot study has come out of New Zealand showing that exergaming titles are just as good as casual exercise. No surprise there, but it’s nice to see the empirical data bear out common sense and provide argument ammo against doubters.

The 12 week initial pilot study by Dr. Ralph Maddison over at Auckland U. worked with 21 children age 10-14, and measured energy expenditure via oxygen masks. The follow up looked at 20 new subjects, upgrading half of their PlayStations with the EyeToy. This time body mass indices were measured and advanced pedometers were used over 12 weeks.

Children in the eye toy group performed significantly more physical activity, despite spending less time overall playing video games.

“We need to look at different ways, because of the increase of obesity in New Zealand, to increase activity in children,” Dr Maddison said.

Dr Maddison’s team is now seeking a further 330 children, aged between 10 and 14, for an expanded six-month study funded by the Health Research Council of New Zealand.

Playing is playing, and exercise is exercise even in front of a video screen. I do think the idea of linking a pedometer to a virtual world is a good idea, one springing naturally from the Webkinz linkage of RL objects to the VW. Seems this could herald a bevy of new ideas linking the virtual with RL objects and activities.

References:
Borley, C. (2008, February 22). Video games good as exercise: Study. New Zealand Herald. [Online.] Retrieved February 23, 2008 from http://www.nzherald.co.nz/category/story.cfm?
c_id=204&objectid=10493847



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