Exergaming

Exergaming

Exergaming (a portmanteau of "exercise" and "gaming") is a term used for video games that also provide exercise. Exergames have one element of exercise and one element of gaming. The "gaming" aspect is a short form for video gaming. "Exergames" sub divide into two main implementations, those with a game specifically designed to use an exercise input device and those implementations using a genre of, or a generic game.

Games fit in to the category of entertainment, and similarly Exergames are a category of Exertainment (formed from "exercise" and "entertainment"). Exertainment includes one aspect of innovation or entertainment to an exercise work out.

History

Exergaming contains elements that were developed in the virtual reality community during the 1980s. The pioneer in this area was Autodesk, which developed two systems, the "HighCycle" and "Virtual Racquetball". The "HighCycle" was an exercise bike that a user would pedal through a virtual landscape. If the user pedaled fast enough, the virtual bike would take off and fly over the landscape. "Virtual Racquetball" tracked the position and orientation of an actual racquet that was used to hit a virtual ball in a virtual environment. This environment was shared with another user equipped with another tracked racquet, allowing the two users to play each other over phone lines. In both systems, the users could wear the "VPL eyephones", an early Head-mounted display (HMD), that would provide more immersion for the user. Howard Rheingold. "Virtual Reality" pp188-189 "Simon & Schuster." 1991. ISBN 0-671-77897-8.]

The first true attempt at what would later be called Exertainment was the Atari "Puffer" project (1982). This was an exercise bike that would hook up to an Atari 400/800 or 5200 system. Forward speed was controlled by pedaling while steering and additional gameplay was handled by a handlebar-mounted gamepad. The machine was nearly ready for production with several games ("Tumbleweeds" and "Jungle River Cruise") when Atari declared bankruptcy and the Puffer project was abandoned. Nintendo also dabbled in this space with the Power Pad in the late 1980s.

The first exergaming system released to the market was the 1986 "Computrainer". Designed as a training aid and motivational tool, the "Computrainer" allowed users to ride through a virtual landscape generated on a Nintendo NES, while monitoring data such as power output and pedaling cadence. The product had a price that was far too high to be considered as an entertainment product, but was affordable by dedicated athletes. The product continues to this day, where it now runs using Microsoft Windows compatible software with extensive graphic and physiological capabilities.

Also released for the NES in 1986 was the Family Trainer, which focused on entertainment rather than exercise.Fact|date=March 2008

About the same time as the Computrainer, Concept II introduced a computer attachment for their rowing machine. This has become their "eRow" product and is used for both individual motivation as well as competition in "indoor rowing leagues"

During the 1990s, there was a surge of interest in the application of "virtual reality" technologies to high-end gym equipment. Life Fitness and Nintendo partnered to produce the "Exertainment" System; Precor had an LCD-based bike product, and Universal had several CRT-based systems. The Netpulse system provided users with the ability to browse the web while exercising. Fitlinxx introduced a system that used sensors attached to weight machines in order to provide automated feedback to users.

The most sophisticated of these entries was the Tectrix "VR Bike". Developed originally by CyberGear Inc., The VR Bike allowed users to pedal through a number of virtual environments as well as engage in single and multiplayer games. It was joined later by the "VR Climber".

Three issues combined to ensure the failure of these systems in the marketplace. First, they were significantly more expensive than the equivalent models that did not have all the additional electronics. Second, they were harder to maintain, and were often left broken. Lastly the additional expertise required to operate the software was often intimidating to the users, who shied away from the machines out of fear that they would look foolish while trying to master the machine.

Until 1998, nothing significant happened in the field of videogame exercise. Hardware was still too expensive for the average home consumer, and the health clubs were gun-shy about adopting any new technology. As high-performance game console capabilities improved and prices fell, manufacturers once more started to explore the fitness market.

In 1998, Konami's Dance Dance Revolution was released. It was highly effective - exercise-wise - and very cost effective and so brought exergaming into the mainstream. In 2000, UK startup Exertris introduced an interactive gaming bike to the commercial fitness market. The 2005 release of the , brought the first - multi-function - exergame hardware into the home market. Making the players physical movements into the game's controller. 2006 Saw the launch of Gamercize, combining traditional fitness equipment with games consoles. The minimalist approach allows game play to continue only when exercising, turning all game titles into potential exergames. Next on the exergaming revolution was Nintendo's 2006 Wii, bringing acceleration detection into this emerging trend with the Wii Remote. In late 2007, Nintendo released the exergame Wii Fit, which utilized a new peripheral, the Wii Balance Board. All four of these approaches to exergames have been documented and compared by VideoJug in an information film (http://www.videojug.com/film/how-to-use-video-games-to-keep-fit).

The PCGamerBike, showed up at CES in 2007 where it received an Honoree Award. It differs from other exergaming devices in that its pedal motion can be mapped to any key on the keyboard. It also has a precision optical encoder which enables it to detect the slightest forward and reverse pedal motion. Another move in this field was made by the Fisher-Price Smart Cycle.

Recent activity

Exergaming came to the mass media attention at the Consumer Electronics Show when Bill Gates showcased the Exertris Interactive Gaming Bike in 2003, and the following year the same show hosted a pavilion dedicated to video game technology that also worked as sports and exercise equipment. Exergames "evolved from technology changes aimed at making videogames more fun." Tara Parker-Pope. "The PlayStation Workout: Videogames That Get Kids to Jump, Kick and Sweat." "Wall Street Journal." October 4, 2005. Retrieved on December 1, 2006.] The latest evolution of exergaming technology tracks full body movement in 3 dimensions, and provides accurate measurements of reaction time, acceleration and deceleration quickness, and movement speed and power. These systems are primarily used in rehabilitation and sports training facilities, but are finding their way into some fitness centers.Fact|date=May 2008

Examples of Exergaming Devices include: PCGamerBike, NeoRacer, Dance Dance Revolution, EyeToy, some Wii games, Gamercize, Cybex TRAZER and jOG from New Concept Gaming.

Examples of Exertainment include: Lightspace Play Floor, PlayMotion, Yourself!Fitness, Expresso Fitness S2, Wii Fit, i.play and Sportwall.

Nintendo WiiUsing the Wii is seen as more being more physically demanding than sedentary game consoles, [cite news | url=http://online.wsj.com/public/article/SB116441076273232312-3nPirhZn20_L2P7m_ROtFUkh6yA_20071124.html | title=A Wii Workout: When Videogames Hurt | author=Jamin Warren | date=November 25, 2006 | publisher=Wall Street Journal | accessdate=2008-01-16] but a study published in the British Medical Journal [cite journal |author=Graves L, Stratton G, Ridgers ND, Cable NT |title=Comparison of energy expenditure in adolescents when playing new generation and sedentary computer games: cross sectional study |journal=BMJ |volume=335 |issue=7633 |pages=1282–4 |year=2007 |pmid=18156227 |doi=10.1136/bmj.39415.632951.80] found that while playing the Wii uses significantly more energy than playing sedentary computer games the energy used when playing active Wii games is not of high enough intensity to contribute towards the recommended daily amount of exercise in children. [cite news | url=http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/7155342.stm | title=Wii players need to exercise too | publisher=BBC News Online | date=21 December 2007]

The energy expended with exergaming devices such as PCGamerBike, NeoRacer and Gamercize, that combine traditional cardiovascular fitness machines with gaming, has not been questioned. The effectiveness of maintaining interest in exercise using traditional fitness machines has been examined with Gamercize and found to be six times more sustainable than exercise alone. National Obesity Forum "TV/video games and child obesity". [http://nationalobesityforum.org.uk/content/view/338/131/ http://nationalobesityforum.org.uk] September2007]

Design considerations

When making an exergaming system, the manufacturer of a consumer product must make the decision as to whether the system will be usable with off-the-shelf games or if custom software must be written for it. Because it takes longer for a user to move their entire body in response to stimulation from the game, it is often the case that dedicated software must be written for the game to playable. An example of this is Konami's "Dance Dance Revolution". Though designed to be played by users moving about on a specially designed dancepad, that game can alternatively be played by pushing buttons with one's fingers using a standard hand-held gamepad. When played with the dancepad at higher levels the game can be quite challenging (and physically exhausting), but if the game is played using the buttons on the hand controller, none of the sequences are terribly difficult. A system that uses the major muscle groups and still provides rapid enough response times for so-called "fast twitch" games is the Powergrid Fitness Kilowatt. The Kilowatt incorporates strain gauges in its controller post that converts the forces that the user applies against the controller into the equivalent of controller thumbstick input. The system can incorporate forces of up to 300 pounds (135 kg) into game play.

Trends

Newer systems such as the EyeToy and Wii use alternative input devices. The EyeToy uses image analysis to extract the motion of the user against a background and uses these motions to control the character in the game. A specifically-designed exercise game "Kinetic", superimposes animated objects to be punched, kicked, or otherwise interacted with over a video image of the user. The Wii and Playstation3 both incorporate motion sensors such as accelerometers and gyroscopes into the hand-held controllers that are used to direct behaviors within the game.

Additional reading

* Eyetoy Kinetic - Thin AG, Howey D, Murdoch L & Crozier A (July 2007). Evaluation of physical exertion required to play the body movement controlled Eyetoy Kinetic video game. Life Sciences 2007, SECC, Glasgow, Scotland.
* Wii Sports - Professor Tim Cable (February 2007). School of Sport and Exercise Sciences, John Moores University, Liverpool, England.

References

External links

* [http://www.thestingerreport.com/member/report_511.htm The Stinger Report on Leisure Industry Week '06]


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