1. What is it About
Finally, you swing around your axe, spin around yourself and bang. The monster is dead! Wooh! You are breathless. That required lots of complicated manoeuvres. You had to fight the monster five times before you could take it down. Your heart rate is up and you are panting. You need to rest a bit. This game is so cool. You drink some water. Right! You are ready for more. You resume your walk in the jungle. You hear some noises. Suddenly, you see two orcs approaching you from left. Ok, this time you need to kill them both at once…
Exergaming is a combination of exercising and gaming. The game creates an environment for you that is entertaining and motivates you do perform fitness-related exercises usually using dedicated hardware interfaces.
2. Where is the Fun
- Imagine being immersed while exercising. You no longer feel you exercised for three hours while you were playing the game.
- Ladies can enjoy computer games more than ever before. Games are no longer made only for boys and exergaming, such as dancing, can be attractive to girls.
- You can use the software to monitor your progress as you become better at doing yoga.
- Get increased efficiency in life by doing multiple things at once. Now you can have fun, get your heart rate up, do your fitness exercise and calm your mind by getting immersed in the virtual world.
3. What are its Applications
- Virtual training. The computer can guide you through custom made fitness routines and act as your personal trainer.
- Networked gym. You can get linked with live trainers to perform group exercises without the need to be physically together. You won’t need to spend half an hour getting to gym and back. Instead you use that time on your spin machine with the rest of the networked players.
- Competitive sport games. If you want to win your next game, you need to show your muscle power. No pain, no gain. Being able to press the button with lightening speed will no longer do it. You need to show if you have muscle power.
4. How Developed is it
There are already many proprietary controllers that let you move around while playing a game. Some of the popular exergames are dance video games, such as Dance Dance Revolution by Konami, and In the Groove, by Raxor Games/RedOctane, which have sold millions of console copies and are popular in video game arcades. The interface to these games is a dance pad on the floor, so that lower body movement and coordinated footwork are the skills needed to win the game. Studies show that those who played these games for fitness enjoyed the highest in comparison with others.
Another example of exergames is the EyeToy. Using EyeToy: Kinetic, a camera points at a player and inserts the player’s image into a virtual game environment. The player can then interact with virtual objects shown on the screen, like punching or kicking them.
There is growing evidence that frequent exergames help people stay fit and manage their weight. Exergames have proved to be highly appealing, motivating, and fun, while offering compelling game challenges. It also helps to create friendships and a way to meet others.
The latest devices such as Wii Fit may also have a large impact on this growing trend.
5. How Can it be Improved
The field is certainly expanding. One big limitation is that most devices are proprietary and as a result incompatible with different systems. Another problem is lack of space. Most homes may not have that much free space for a spinning machine, a treadmill and a cross ski machine. Then there is the cost. A bigger machine with more components is usually more expensive and investing in them may not be appealing. You might as well go to gym instead.
Hence two trends exist. Simple small devices that can be multi purpose for a variety of games and fitness software will be more popular. The second trend is that those who are interested in more complex machines with immersive exergaming will go to dedicated places that have these machines. Instead of going to an arcade, people will go to a gym intending to do exercises with game machines. As an alternative to watching TV (as it is popular today in gyms) you may be interested to get competitively pushed by your virtual personal trainer. Your trainer can sense you when you slow down while exercising and adjust the game environment or the machine you are using so that you pay more attention to the exercise.
6. What Does it Lead to
The direct benefit of exergaming is the increased fitness of the society while having fun at the same time. Probably a more important benefit is that players get to immerse themselves in games by getting physically engaged. After all, using your fingers to swing around a heavy sword is not necessarily natural, while swinging around a real replica of a sword with similar physical characteristics of the sword you see in the virtual world can prove to be much more satisfying. Combining exergaming with virtual reality, wearable computing and a suitable area where you can freely move around will have a large impact on the way we play games in the future. Eventually, in addition to kitchen, living room, bedroom, we will also need to have a game room, or if you like, an exergame room.