Friday, May 16, 2008

Games for Health, part 2

May 8 & 9: These 2 days were the actual G4H conference, held at the Baltimore Convention Center. It was great to meet all those who I had only met in cyberspace before, as well as meet up with exergaming associates from previous conferences. These 2 days were packed and super-busy! (You'll see why in a 2nd...) It was great to see all the research going on, meet new people in this area, and see the vendors, both old and new...especially seeing the new hardware and software coming out.Beth Bryant (Digital Mill), was one of the main organizers of this conf. She did a great job keeping everything running smoothly.

I was especially excited to see some of the new health and nutrition games coming out, some that are actually combined with exergaming!

The largest G4H conf. yet...over 300 attendees!

One reason why my first day at the conf. was SO crazy busy was this video crew, directed by Charlotte. The Robert Woods Johnson Foundation wanted to do a unique video showing a day at the conf. through the eyes of an attendee, so guess who was asked to be those eyes??? So not only did I have the "stress" of speaking that day at noon (see a review of my presentation, also at Gamasutra), I had this crew following me around EVERYWHERE (except the restroom, though I was still wirelessly mic'd...hmmmm).

Check out a video clip of the XRtainment Zone on the RWJF website! The RWJF also now has a summary of the G4H conf. here.

Going to sessions, sitting in sessions, writing notes, talking to people, taking B-roll shots of me walking here and there, and yes, even when I was speaking...they were shooting video. I love doing this kind of production, but I'm usually BEHIND the camera, NOT in front of it!

People who didn't know me must've wondered who I was, given this crew following me around taping me. People who did know me teasingly came up to me and asked me for my autograph, like some celeb. It was too funny!

I must admit that Charlotte and the crew really put me at ease and were very patient when we had to do several takes. After shooting from 7 AM till almost 6 PM, I'm curious to see how the final product will look (only about 3 mins. long!). It'll be posted on the RWJF site, so as soon as I get the URL, I'll post it here.

I must say that I'm very impressed what those political candidates and celebs must go through, having to "be on" all the time when cameras are around. It's tough and very tiring!

In between taping, the crew let me grab a quick bite to eat without being followed or taped. I took that opportunity to meet up with Dr. Christine Spain, director of the President's Challenge. She came up from DC to have lunch with me and officially meet in person. She was in the audience 2 years ago when I spoke at the AAPHERD conf. in Baltimore but had to leave before I was finished. She was instrumental in hooking me up with Rob Wheat, of Golin Harris, the PR firm for Nintendo. ;-) After all of our e-mailing, it was great to finally talk in person and we covered a lot of brainstorming during that 40-min. lunch. Thanks for coming up to meet with me, Chris!

One of the keynotes was a panel of insurance companies, and among these multi-million member health plans was our very own, IEHP's Dr. Sue Gengler! Even though she felt like a David among these Goliath of health plans, she was the ONLY health plan that could say they were funding exergaming! You can see her powerpoint on the left, talking about the XRTZ's Family Fit program which they subsidize for their members. Great job, Sue!

Here are some shots from the various sessions that I attended.

Look at this...a room full of exergaming researchers! Wow! We sure have come a long way over the last few years.
Dr. Debra Lieberman, director of Games for Health Research at UC Santa Barbara and the RWJF, lead the open discussion on research.
Hey, there's that Dr. Thin researcher again!
Dr. Jeanne Gleason (left, behind the red Mac--cool!), and Pamela Martinez (ABD PhD), both of New Mexico State Univ., present on our newly funded games for health CYFAR project (children, youth, families at risk). This is a 4-year project that will focus on coordinating anything games for health and exergaming related, especially research. XRtainment Zone and CSUSB, among other partners across the USA, are excited to be a part of this collaboration, headed by Dr. Barbara Chamberlin, who was presenting at a CYFAR conf. and couldn't be with us at G4H. As you can see, Pamela wasn't feeling too good that AM, but she was a trooper and did very well in her presentation!
(If you'd like to join our Exergaming Advisory Network, click here.)

At this G4H, it was a Who's-Who in Exergaming could be found in the audience. Here we have the CEO of iTech Fitness, Mike Hansen, and his wife, Lisa, who helps run the XRKade research lab at Univ. of South Florida. She's a very passionate fellow exergaming evangelist!!!
Another passionate exergaming who I finally met for the first time in person was Judy Shasek, the creator of Generation Fit. She's been getting exergaming into the classroom, and showing how this can help academic performance.
After bringing this Wii in my carryon luggage from CA, I just had to get a picture of the winner of the "Try the exergaming demos" drawing. The lucky winner of this Wii was Laura Levy, of the Hosp. Corp. of America. Congrats to Laura!
Greg Merrill, the CEO of Ineraction Laboratories (formerly Powergrid), and the maker of the Kilowatt, was showing off their new product in the exergaming demo room. Due out in '09, can't wait to get my hands on a unit and give it a whirl!

Can you believe I didn't get a picture of the exergaming demo room? I just plainly ran out of time during the two days! Sportwall, Xergame, Lightspace, Dance Town, Makoto, Xavix, and a Japanese version of the Wii Fit, among others, were featured there.

Even though time was flying, and I was much more relaxed for the 2nd day of the conf. with no video crew and speaking to do, we were all pretty tired by the end, as you can see. The G4H head leader of us all is Ben Sawyer (next to me), and those 3 Digital Mill folks were the most tired of all of us attendees there. Great job you guys! (Sorry, I'm blanking out on the lady with the glasses, but she was there right besides Beth the whole time it seemed.) I can't wait to see what our next G4H conference will bring!!!

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