Thursday, December 23, 2010

Be Active Your Way Blog | Exergaming and Physical Activity

Be Active Your Way Blog | Exergaming and Physical Activity Check out this excellent blog by Sanna--very well balanced! Great to see exergaming in this particular forum/blog. Great way to get the message out there!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Exergames in USA Today!

11-29-10: A good article on how exergames and active video games are being utilized more in schools. A good discussion on how it can be incorporated into the school day, the debate about exergames in PE, and best of all, quotes from exergaming colleagues from our Exergames Unlocked grant--Barbara Chamberlin, Bryan Haddock, and Emily Murphy!

I was especially glad to read a quote from a non-exergaming evangelist say exactly what we've been saying all along when exergaming is criticized:

"Charlene Burgeson, executive director of the National Association for Sport and Physical Education, a group of physical education professionals, says, "We need to meet kids where they are, and if active video games get them moving, then all the better.""

Yeah, Go Ms. Burgeson!!! I'm going to try and track down her e-mail and thank her for this quote. Love it!

Also love the other case studies on how exergaming has helped with tardiness and testing.

You can read the rest of the USA Today article here.

Monday, November 22, 2010

GeoPalz: next step online virtual game?

11-22-10: Just in time for the holidays! A gift that will help kids earn more gifts and prizes, and get them moving at the same time! Similar to Webkinz where you buy a product that gives you access to an online world to earn more cool stuff! Check it out here:

GeoPalz website

Now here's the kicker: Can this be tied into an online virtual world type of game? I'm betting we're going to see that very soon, so stay tuned!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Exercise and Alzheimer

11-19-10: Check this on exercise and high-risk alzheimer...more reasons for seniors to keep exercising! What is interesting is the testing they did to measure cognitive function.

What if the exercise was COMBINED with a cognitive function, as in some of our exergaming equipment like the Makoto? Could there be an even bigger impact on protection???

An excellent idea for a study, working with the neuro or geriatric guys....we have all the equipment and resources at LLU so let's get a grant to study this effect!!! I have yet to see it presented at any of the conferences.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Makoto's newest Makoto!

11-9-10: Got a cool treat tonight! No, not Denver's first snowfall of the year (tho that was pretty cool), but got to spend some time with Makoto's Marian and David Shaw and to check out their newest version of the Makoto, shipping out this month. Also got to see the new wall, ready by 2011.

It features a new "brain", a Window's 7 PC and screen. This allows it endless flexibility for programming now, compared to the original version. This also is better set up to allow groups of kids to play various games, making it a great choice for working with groups of kids.

Not only that, there were upgraded design features: flush lights, more lights, and larger towers. It looks really sharp in black!

See an exclusive sneak peak of co-founders Marian and Dave demo it their newest product! Thx to Marian and Dave for picking me up and allowing me to see this newest Makoto. Would love to upgrade our Makoto in the Zone so we can do some research with it. Lot's of possibility! Way to go, Marian and Dave!

Kinecting Experience

11-9-10: The Kinect is here! Last Thur., picked up my Kinect at Gamestop, along with some of the games like Kinect Sports and Dance Central. Also picked up Your Shape as well, to check that out.

Couldn't try it right away because I had to update the OS of my Xbox and after trying it with the USB and a CD of the update, I finally had to lug it upstairs near my Airport/router so I could hook it up to download the update from Xbox Live (didn't want to spend the extra $100 just to get the wifi adapter since I don't plan to do a lot of online gaming at the moment). Fortunately, that worked and soon, my Xbox was ready for Kinect to connect to it.

Got to try it out a bit Friday afternoon, but Sat. night was the "big" test with a bunch of kids at a friend's house. You an see some of the pictures of this session here. Here's the link to theYoutube clip of them trying out the Kinect.

Here are my first impressions:

1. It's big! When I first opened the box, I was struck with how large it was--not bad--just, wow! The connecting cable & power cord are connected, and initially I wondered if it would reach both the Kinect camera and the outlet at the same time, but the design hasn't proved to be a problem, so far.

2. Immersive - It's really NICE not to have to hold anything, and the 3D feature is a whole lot better than the Eye Toy's 2D. You also can't cheat it--if you do a little overhead motion/hit in v-ball, you do a dink shot. If you do a full-on spike motion and time it right, you can do a power spike, which leads me to...

3. Better in the virtual world! I can do things in Kinect that I can't do in real life, like crush my spike in v-ball. It felt awesome and just made me jump higher and swing harder to see how hard I could spike that ball.

4. It's a blast! I've only played a couple of games on it so far (v-ball and soccer), but so far, my initial impressions is that it's a blast! It's the first time (for a home console) that I feel like I'm really IN the game. The only other exergame that is similar to that is the Trazer...and that costs quite a bit more than the Kinect (even if you have to get the Xbox bundled with it).

Is it perfect? Not quite...

1. Updating Xbox: If you have an older Xbox, you have to make sure you have the latest OS. I mentioned my experience for updating that I went through above. When I downloaded the update from Xbox's website, I put it on a flash drive as they instructed, but when I tried to insert my flash drive in the back of the Xbox, it DID NOT FIT because the port is recessed in! I ended up having to use a little "hub" as an extension that would fit into it. Once I did that, I never got the "update" screen the instructions said I should see. So I tried plan B--putting the update on a CD. That too, didn't get my the update screen. You can read above how I ended up hooking it directly to my router. Fortunately, I still had my ethernet cable that came with the Xbox so I lugged it upstairs near my router and then lugged our pre-flat screen CRT 20-inch TV into the hallway to connect it to the Xbox so I could do the update. Once I had that all set up, the update went smoothly and automatically, even without having an account with Xbox live. Too bad they don't just give you a CD with Kinect that would do the update automatically without all this fuss.

2. Navigational challenges. Playing is lifelike; navigating takes a bit more practice (or tech perfection). If you watch my video clip on youtube or FB, you'll see the kids sometimes hunting around for the little white "hand" that you use to make selections, etc. Even then, when you found it, it would sometimes not move the way you wanted to. You have to make sure you keep your body in one place and just move your hand--sometimes, the kids would "walk" there body over which messed up the camera for some reason. This was really the only frustrating part of the whole experience, especially for younger kids. Too bad you didn't have the option of using the xbox controller to make selections or control the white hand with the joystick.

Challenges aside, if and when a lot of Kinect games come out quickly, Wii and Move should be worried because it truly is the most immersive of all the platforms as far as the "human joystick" concept.

I can't wait for more games--wonder if they'll make a "ninja" type of game or other martial arts games--I could really get into that since I really can't do those things in real life! (Shhhhh, don't tell my daughter's friends who all think I really AM a ninja!)

Also, from a games for health perspective, I really hope that we can get developers to make entertaining and immersive games for health that we lifestyle medicine practitioners can recommend to our patients. Not only that, but can also track their exercise, nutrition, and other health behaviors we're trying to change.

And while we're at it, I hope that the xbox can someday connect with electronic medical records (EMRs), especially Microsoft has a whole division on health and lifestyle, and their own personal medical vault or cloud. I would love to be able to recommend a FUN game that helps my patients stay active, and in the background, that game would connect with their EMR or even to me, notifying me when that patient didn't meet their weekly exercise goals (eg. 150 mins/wk of moderate intensity) so that I could intervene right away and help them get back on track instead of waiting to hear about it a month down the road at their monthly follow-up. Given that healthcare is focusing more and more on lifestyle medicine, we will need tools that not only help our patients keep compliant with the prescribed behavior changes, but also EASILY keep track and report to healthcare professionals when a patient is BEGINNING to lapse from their behavior.

Have this cycle between healthcare practitioner, patient, and EMR would greatly increase the practitioner's effectiveness and efficiency, tracking for their EMR, and compliance on the patient's part. All of this should lead to reduce cost, reduced utilization, and improved outcomes (biometrics)....a win-win-win for the patient, healthcare provider, and healthcare system in general.

Finally, I looking forward to trying Kinect with my dad (post-stroke) to see how he does it with it. We got him a PS2 and Eye Toy way back when he first had his stroke, and that worked out very well. So as soon as I get back home from this conference, I will get him playing on it and do a follow-up report on that specific aspect.

I'm hoping to set it up as a demo here at the American Public Health Assoc. annual meeting in Denver, where I lugged my Xbox in my carry-on and checked in the kinect. We'll see if I can find a place to set it up and demo it! Unfortunately, I can't seem to get the RCA jacks in my hotel room TV to work, so I haven't been able to play more of the games after hours--so much for lugging my Xbox here to Denver! LOL!

That's my initial report on the Kinect. Stay tuned for part 2! Overall, a huge 2 thumbs up to Microsoft for the Kinect. This is a huge homerun for bringing exergaming into the homes of the end users.

BTW, I have no financial connections with Microsoft or Xbox, but hey, if they want to send me more Kinect games or Kinects to outfit our XRtainment Zone, I'll be happy to disclose that in future blogs and presentations! ;-)

Speaking of which, Dr. Bryan Haddock just got some Kinects as well and will be doing some kcal expenditure studies on it, so stay tuned for that, too.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

USA Today article on Exergaming!

10-12-10: This article just came out after the recent Obesity conf. down in San Diego. Check it out here.

Some colleagues of mine were featured in this article, like Drs. Barbara Chamberlin, Emily Murphy, and Bryan Haddock.

Dr. James Sallis was also featured, and here's something interesting he said about exergaming and PE:

"But Sallis isn't convinced that these activities should be included in PE classes. "Whenever possible, we want to get the kids outdoors, where they can run around more freely. We actually need to teach kids activities such as basketball, baseball, soccer, volleyball. We need to teach them teamwork."These are the kinds of skills kids need for a lifetime of physical activity, he says. "Doing some kind of exergame may be better than no PE or bad PE, but I don't think it's as good as good PE."

I respect Dr. Sallis's work with the built environment and all, but I disagree with his comments on PE. Teaching kids team sports does NOT teach the kind of skills they need for a lifetime of PA! Learning how to do a lay-up when I was in elem. school (which included a lot of standing around, waiting for my turn to do a lay-up) did NOT teach me life skills for PA. I never played JV or varsity b-ball in highschool or college, and I don't play b-ball now. But we sure spent a whole lot of time learning about these and other sports.

That's why we have the growing movement that PE4Life has started, with the late Phil Lawler. They saw that "traditional" PE was not teaching skills that could be use for PA in life after PE, so they started a movement of change in PE and thankfully, it's spreading.

Teamwork is important, and there are lots of other, more inclusive ways of teaching teamwork besides team sports. Team sports only appeal to those who are are good at it; if you're not good at that particular sport, beware! You are relegated to the bench or worse off, not picked for a team unless you're "force" onto a team. If anything, team sports turned the majority of kids OFF of being part of a team, because of these dynamics, and only appeals to the jocks and jockettes who were good.

Exergames in PE is more inclusive (even handicapped and disabled kids can perform and compete with able-bodied kids), can instill teamwork (we've done teams with the makoto, 3-kick, and they have teams with iDance, etc.), and more importantly, they can be done for LIFE!!! (Seniors are doing exergames when they've stopped playing team sports a long time ago--if they even played them as adults!).

The only point that Dr. Sallis might have over exergames is the "outdoors" point...but I'm sure PE is held indoors when we have smog alerts or it's over 100 degs...or below freezing outside, so even traditional PE can't be done outdoors all the time.

As someone said in the article, a key point to exergames is that it can meet kids where they are at, so for many patients that I see, exergames CAN take the place of traditional sports. Many of these kids won't do team sports for many reasons, but they'll play exergames, especially if we have a similar system of teams and leagues for exergames like we do for b-ball, swimming, etc.

Physiologically, the heart doesn't care if you're running down first base line, or if you're running fast on a Xavix mat. All it knows is that this person is moving their feet fast and needs more oxygen and glucose to power their leg muscles!

Once overweight and obese kids get in shape and lose the excess weight playing exergames, maybe they'll try some of the more traditional activities, sports, or even some other ones that are outside and very physically active--like paintball!!! (that's a form of a non-digital exergame). I don't believe that kids and adults who start off on exergames as their main form of PA will stay on that only. I believe that they will venture out and try other forms of PA....but that is something for future research to prove or disprove!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Brain exercises accelerate Alzheimers?

10-8-10: If you read the title and the news, you might conclude that doing brain (cognitive) exercises is bad for Alzheimers. But read the study closely and you'll see why the researchers said that brain exercises is still good for the brain!

I thought this might be of interest because of some exergames such as the Brain Bike, which combines both brain exercises and physical execises.

In a nut shell, brain exercises lengthy the duration of a healthy, pre-alzheimer brain, but once alzheimer sets in, it shortens the "bad stage" of progression of the disease.

In other words, a person will suffer the least amount of time if they do brain exercises.

So no matter what, keep your brain active! Doing brain exercises with physical exercise is the best, synergistic combination you can do!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Children's brain development is linked to physical fitness, research finds

9-17-10: Another reason for kids to be physically fit! I wonder what would happen if you added mental stimulation--like what you get when you play exergames--into the mix? That would be an interesting research study! Hmmmm...

Children's brain development is linked to physical fitness, research finds

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Review article on active video games

9-8-10: Just rec'd a PDF of this review article entitled, "Active video games to promote physical activity in children and youth", by Elaine Biddis and Jennifer Irwin. It came out in the Archives of Pediatric and Adolescence Medicine, 2010; 164(7):664-672.

The objective of this study was to "...systematically review levels of metabolic expenditure and changes in activity pattenrs associated wtih active video game (AVG) play in children and to provide directions for future research efforts." This covered published studies spanning Jan. 1, 1998 to Jan. 1, 2010.

If you'd like a copy of this study via PDF, send me an e-mail at

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

TEN rolls out comprehensive exergaming rating system!!!

9-7-10: On Monday, The Exergame Network rolled out a press release announcing the newly developed and most comprehensive exergaming rating system to date. Created by a group of exergaming experts from around the world, this system looks at the whole "experience" and not just one or two factors.

This will help consumers, parents, fitness trainer, healthcare practitioners, and others who either are recommending exergames to their patients/clients or trying to make a choice for themselves.

You can see the whole rating system HERE.

Check it out and give me your feedback!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Rating system; dent in peds obesity?

9-3-10: Interesting article by the Opposing View on the need for a rating system for exergaming and if it can put a dent in the peds obesity epidemic. Be sure to read the comment section for the ANSWER to these questions!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

China's Lenovo to launch game console!

9-1-10: Thx to our Hong Kong Exergaming Evangelist, Robin M., for bringing this to our attention! Read about China's game console that will use gesture control! Read more about it HERE.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

ACSM on the Wii!

8-24-10: It's not often that I see the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) publish something on exegaming, so it was a nice surprise to see a posting on the Wii and seniors in their current e-bulletin. You can read more about it here:

Hope we can see more exergaming research featured on ACSM!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Why schools need exergaming!

8-2-10: Here's link to a great article by Dr. Dan Lawler. The title is, "Exergaming and the 'Turned On' brain" and shows how exergaming can help with some of the biggest challenges in education. If you work in a school setting, you won't want to miss this article!!!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

New study could help casual exergaming!

7-28-10: Check this quote out: “The time spent sitting was independently associated with total mortality, regardless of physical activity level.”

This was from a new American Cancer Society study,
titled Leisure Time Spent Sitting in Relation to Total Mortality in a Prospective Cohort of US Adults. (I put more details of the article and study below for those who want the reference) What does this study suggest? Two things:

1. We still need to promote the 2008 physical activity recommendation of 150 mins. of moderate physical activity per week.

2. We need to start focusing on reducing the amount of time we spend being a couch potato the other 23.5 hours in the day!

How does this help the exergaming cause? Well for starters, most of our research focus has been on showing how exergaming can meet objective #1. Games like wii Boxing and Xavix Jackie Chan Run and certain songs of iDance can definitely get one up to the moderate (4-6 MET) range.

Even though we have been showing this, most of the criticism towards exergaming is still focused on how it isn't "enough" to reach the moderate level of "exercise". Well now with this study, we can say that the OTHER exergames that fall below the "moderate" level can help to address this second objective! It seems that this is turning out to be a much bigger risk factor than was first thought.

So casual exergames can make a big dent reducing the negative effects of "hypokinetic disease", and if you read the study, this could be even bigger than getting people to do their 30 mins. of moderate exercise Rx 5x/wk!

Another study to support the use of exergames in getting couch potatoes all over the world moving!

Public release date: 22-Jul-2010

Contact: David Sampson
American Cancer Society

Study links more time spent sitting to higher risk of death

Risk found to be independent of physical activity level

A new study from American Cancer Society researchers finds it's not just how much physical activity you get, but how much time you spend sitting that can affect your risk of death. Researchers say time spent sitting was independently associated with total mortality, regardless of physical activity level. They conclude that public health messages should promote both being physically active and reducing time spent sitting. The study appears early online in the American Journal of Epidemiology.

Increasing obesity levels in the United States are widely predicted to have major public health consequences. A growing epidemic of overweight and obesity has been attributed in part to reduced overall physical activity. And while several studies support a link between sitting time and obesity, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease risk factors (11, 16, 17), and unhealthy dietary patterns in children and adults (18-20), very few studies have examined time spent sitting in relation to total mortality (21-23). Thus, public health guidelines focus largely on increasing physical activity with little or no reference to reducing time spent sitting.

To explore the association between sitting time and mortality, researchers led by Alpa Patel, Ph.D. analyzed survey responses from 123,216 individuals (53,440 men and 69,776 women) who had no history of cancer, heart attack, stroke, or emphysema/other lung disease enrolled in the American Cancer Society's Cancer Prevention II study in 1992. They examined the amount of time spent sitting and physical activity in relation to mortality between 1993 and 2006. They found that more leisure time spent sitting was associated with higher risk of mortality, particularly in women. Women who reported more than six hours per day of sitting were 37 percent more likely to die during the time period studied than those who sat fewer than 3 hours a day. Men who sat more than 6 hours a day were 18 percent more likely to die than those who sat fewer than 3 hours per day. The association remained virtually unchanged after adjusting for physical activity level. Associations were stronger for cardiovascular disease mortality than for cancer mortality.

When combined with a lack of physical activity, the association was even stronger. Women and men who both sat more and were less physically were 94% and 48% more likely, respectively, to die compared with those who reported sitting the least and being most active.

"Several factors could explain the positive association between time spent sitting and higher all-cause death rates," said Dr. Patel. "Prolonged time spent sitting, independent of physical activity, has been shown to have important metabolic consequences, and may influence things like triglycerides, high density lipoprotein, cholesterol, fasting plasma glucose, resting blood pressure, and leptin, which are biomarkers of obesity and cardiovascular and other chronic diseases."

The authors conclude that "public health messages and guidelines should be refined to include reducing time spent sitting in addition to promoting physical activity. Because a sizeable fraction of the population spends much of their time sitting, it is beneficial to encourage sedentary individuals to stand up and walk around as well as to reach optimal levels of physical activity."


Article: "Leisure Time Spent Sitting in Relation to Total Mortality in a Prospective Cohort of US Adults." Alpa V. Patel, Leslie Bernstein, Anusila Deka, Heather Spencer Feigelson, Peter T. Campbell, 5 Susan M. Gapstur, Graham A. Colditz, and Michael J. Thun. Am J Epid Published online July 22, 2010 (DOI: 10.1093/aje/kwq155).

Link to abstract:

Leisure Time Spent Sitting in Relation to Total Mortality in a Prospective Cohort of US Adults

Alpa V. Patel*, Leslie Bernstein, Anusila Deka, Heather Spencer Feigelson, Peter T. Campbell, Susan M. Gapstur, Graham A. Colditz and Michael J. Thun

* Correspondence to Dr. Alpa V. Patel, Epidemiology Research Program, American Cancer Society, 250 Williams Street NW, Atlanta, GA 30303 (e-mail: ).

Received for publication January 7, 2010. Accepted for publication April 29, 2010.

The obesity epidemic is attributed in part to reduced physical activity. Evidence supports that reducing time spent sitting, regardless of activity, may improve the metabolic consequences of obesity. Analyses were conducted in a large prospective study of US adults enrolled by the American Cancer Society to examine leisure time spent sitting and physical activity in relation to mortality. Time spent sitting and physical activity were queried by questionnaire on 53,440 men and 69,776 women who were disease free at enrollment. The authors identified 11,307 deaths in men and 7,923 deaths in women during the 14-year follow-up. After adjustment for smoking, body mass index, and other factors, time spent sitting (≥6 vs. <3> mortality in both women (relative risk = 1.34, 95% confidence interval (CI): 1.25, 1.44) and men (relative risk = 1.17, 95% CI: 1.11, 1.24). Relative risks for sitting (≥6 hours/day) and physical activity (<24.5> combined were 1.94 (95% CI: 1.70, 2.20) for women and 1.48 (95% CI: 1.33, 1.65) for men, compared with those with the least time sitting and most activity. Associations were strongest for cardiovascular disease mortality. The time spent sitting was independently associated with total mortality, regardless of physical activity level. Public health messages should include both being physically active and reducing time spent sitting.

mortality; motor activity; prospective studies; sedentary lifestyle

Abbreviations: CI, confidence interval; CPS-II, Cancer Prevention Study II; ICD, International Classification of Diseases; MET, metabolic equivalent

Friday, July 9, 2010

Nice writeup on Games for Health

7-9-10: Check out this nice article in Reuters on our recent Games for Health conference. Ben and Steve were quoted in here!

ABCs of Fitness in school day!

7-9-10: A study looked at the ABC's of fitness...but not the alphabet, but the effects of "Activity Bursts in the Classroom"! It's a preliminary study, but I think shows great promise based on the results. David Katz, of Yale, is the lead researcher in this study.

It's a preliminary study, and they discuss the limitations, but I think it's a great start and one that future research can be built upon, especially with utilizing exergaming.

Here's the source and link to this article:

You may want to see this recent article from Preventing Chronic Disease, the online e-journal:
Preventing Chronic Disease (PCD) is a peer-reviewed journal established to disseminate knowledge and promote discussion among researchers and practitioners in the field of chronic disease prevention and health promotion. All issues are available electronically, free of charge to subscribers.
You can find PCD on the Web at:

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Thte "womb of technology"

7-8-10: Ok, so this is the Exergaming Evangelist's soapbox...that doesn't mean I just blindly support anything exergaming, but want to look at all sides of this growing field.

Here's an interesting piece by Jonathan McCalmont on Microsoft's Kinect and where he thinks this type of technology is leading us. Click on the link to read about it:

Think he's right or is it a doomsday perspective? You be the judge.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Another new multiplayer dance game

7-7-10: iDance is the big kid on the multiplayer dancing type exergames, but Cobalt Flux is unveiling it's newest exergame at the YMCA conference in Utah this week called "BluFit". Check it out on their website!
Will be awaiting reports on this new game from colleagues who are there at Utah right now, so stay tuned!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

National Wii Games Tournament!

7-1-10: Only 15 days till the first-ever national Wii Games Tournament kicks off! Too bad there wasn't a location nearer to us, tho the Finals will be held in Los Angeles, which I'll have to go check out. See the website to see if there's a location near you!

Now if we can just get a more inclusive World Exergame Tournament going on, like the National Spelling Bee, that would be awesome! Kids could be training all over the place--at home, in rec centers, at Y's, in after-school programs--training for their local competition in hopes of making it to sectionals, regionals, and then the finals. (Exergame Fitness has hundreds of locations they have set up. Imagine training of teams going on at all of these facilities!)

Imagine teams of kids, adults, seniors, challenged athletes...all traveling to the "World Cup of Exergaming" in some country? Wouldn't that be a sight?

It's been done already--a test competition between a school in California and England (thanks to Richard of Gamercize), so we know the technology is there.

It would make for great TV viewing as well. Maybe there could even be a TV show like the American Gladiators, featuring the latest exergaming athletes!

Having something like this would be a huge motivation to a lot of kids who might not otherwise want to do a whole lot of physical activity. How many kids will make it to the World Little League tournament, or the Junior Olympics in swimming, track and field, etc.? Not many. But if we had something like this for the "video game generation", they would have something to train for.

Those of us who are involved with exergaming sites know that even with video games, the newness can wear off so unless you keep adding new games to your inventory, kids can get bored. Having something like a national or world tournament system (and a chance to be on ESPN or American Exergaming Gladitor on TV) would give kids something to train for and look forward to, thus increasing long-term compliance with their weekly exergaming workout.

Hopefully we'll see that soon and I'll do all I can to make that happen. Anyone interested in joining me & MedPlay Technologies to make this happen???

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Laser tag video game?

Wow, Ubisoft takes a jump and brings back an oldie but goodie, laser tag, in the form of a video game! Thx to Dr. Stephen Yang for posting this on his blog (see his link in my fav links sidebar).

Play laser tag outdoors (FPS, Survival mode) or anywhere you want or even biatholon using Ubisoft's newest exergame - Battle Tag. At E3 last night, the unveiled exergaming's newest entry into an ever changing user interface market. In how Ubisoft describes Battle Tag as the first Live Shooter Game (LSG), the infrared (IR) lasers have a 70 meter range while the pc base needs to stay within a range of 300 meters in order to keep track of the game using the UbiConnect antennae. You can pick up health, ammunition, or objective packs to keep your game going and they are scanned using the RFID sensors placed in both the gun and packs. This is somewhat reminiscent of Hyper Dash, Hyper Jump, Animal Scramble from Wild Entertainment and an FRID toy called Swinxs that is finally available in the US. It would be neat to test all three systems to compare what kids like about each system. If you know someone that can get us a test kit - please get in touch with me at

Other features include:

  • UbiConnect Game Master program & antennae
  • Up to 8 players can play together (4 v 4)
  • User-generated data shared with Battle Tag community
  • Laser sensing vests
  • Voice prompting from Game Master transmitted via the laser gun's speakers

Exergaming Benefits

  • Physical activity (primarily cardiovascular) away from a console.
  • If most of the movements are near maximal and in short bursts, it could be one of the elusive exergames that elicit the vigorous intensity level that has shown to have excellent health benefits.
  • Choice of many types of games and challenges.
  • Social interaction with peers while playing and after receiving results.
  • Strategies (individual and group) and group dynamics.
  • Problem-solving during game-play.

Exergaming Concerns

  • If we really want the kids to get outdoors, they probably should focus on making this game/ type of exergame a mobile-based system (think Jogging at Distance) or one that can leave the range of UbiConnect and continue to be able play. Similar to some wireless real-time heart-rate monitors that leave the base range and continue to collect data - then when you get back in range, the data is streamed to the base.
  • Tethered to the UbiConnect base (300m).
  • "Shooting" / using humans as targets.
  • Batteries and charging system.


  • Any haptic feedback in vest or gun?
  • GPS / mobile systems in development?
  • Customizable games and features?
  • Language packs?

Release date Holiday Season 2010. In know what I'm going to ask Santa for this Christmas:-) Tag On!

center;width:480px;font-family:Arial,sans-serif;font-size:12px;color:#FF9B00;">Xbox 360 Games - E3 2010 - Battle Tag

Los Angeles, USA – June 14, 2010 –Today live at the E3 exposition in Los Angeles, Ubisoft demonstrated a unique new brand of video game toys. The new UbiConnectTM brand brings video games and toys together to offer an immersive and innovative game experience. The brand launches in holiday 2010 with its first product, Battle TagTMa real shooter game that can be played between friends anywhere – at home or outside.
Battle Tagcombines the best of two worlds: a laser tag game and a shooter video game. Using unique real world accessories, players will be able to recharge and increase their life points. The PC will act as a Game Master, challenging players and keeping track of scores between teams. Players will also be able to download new content, create their own content and share with their friends and the Battle Tagcommunity.
“Today’s children grow up with video games and accept them as a part of their play time,” said Yves Guillemot, chief executive officer at Ubisoft. “UbiConnect brings together video games and physical toys, allowing players to play the game both at and away from a video screen.”
Battle Tagis a social, physical and fun experience that brings the interactivity of video games into real life using real world toys and accessories. Battle Tag will launch across North America during this fiscal year.
For more information on Battle Tag, please visit:

E3 Exergaming Highlights

6-23-10: Back from vacation, checking out the highlights from E3. Here's one called Kinect Adventures (Kinect is the new name for Natal, MS's 3D camera).

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Every body has a brain

6-5-10: This was a session at Games for Health...check out the videos!

Every Body Has a Brain, Karen Littman, Morphonix. 
This session will focus on lessons learned and techniques used developing Every Body Has a Brain, an interactive musical brain game and web site designed to increase interest in and knowledge about the brain among 4-6 year olds. It is the third in a series of award-winning neuroscience video games developed by Morphonix LLC and funded by grants from The National Institute of Mental Health's Small Business Innovation Research Program. Creating videogames for 4-6 year olds is challenging. Designers must remember to think like a kid in order to create engaging games. Many 4-6 year olds have never used a computer. Issues like navigation and how to word instructions to meet the developmental needs of the children must be addressed. Participants will learn about Morphonix’ design process, which includes a group of 4-6 year old advisors. They’ll see parts of Every Body has a Brain, hear examples of original songs that introduce each learning objective, and see video footage of the design team in action.

"I posted Videos shown at my session, Every Body Has a Brain on our YouTube channel since they were too big to upload to slide share. There are 5 short videos posted.  The links follow with the description of the session. Great conference!"
Karen Littman

NASA's Challenge

6-5-10: Just rec'd the following from our games for health listserve:

The following request for a written proposal describing a virtual exercise program has $20k award associated with it:

"NASA is looking for a system that augments the exercise experience and captures psychological and physiological measures while the individual crew member is participating in prescribed exercise regimens. This virtual, interactive system will serve as a countermeasure by enhancing the exercise experience.

This is a Theoretical Challenge which requires a written proposal only. The Solver will propose a system that meets the requirements and justify it with arguments and relevant references. Evidence that the proposed system will work (from previous applications, existing data, literature, etc.) will be very important. The proposal will be evaluated on a theoretical basis considering the current state of the art knowledge."
Take care,

Friday, May 28, 2010

6th G4H Conf. history!

5-29-10: The 6th Annual Games for Health Conf. is now history! It was the best one yet, as they seem to keep getting better each year.

Check out the pictures from my FB page here:

You'll see quite a few pictures of the first ever at a conference--the Exergame Challenge! While we didn't reach the 1 million step goal (the non-profit still received their check), it really increased testing of the exergame equipment brought out by Ed, Tommy, Parker, and staff from Motion Fitness. This was a great trial run for a bigger conf. in Nov...the American Public Health Association annual meeting in Nov, in Denver, where over 14,000 public health folks from all over the world will be there. Talk about exposing exergaming to a world-wide audience!

So it was a great conference, and you can see from the pictures we had a great time. Having said that, it seems that we are now reaching a point where this conf. is poised to take the next step...CEU's? Bigger? Post-Conf. evaluations? Live streaming of sessions? These are just some of the questions discussed. 

Ben Sawyer and Beth Bryant did an AWESOME job as always, and deserve a nice break after this. 

If you weren't here, you need to make sure you can make it next year!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Saturday, April 24, 2010

RIP Phil

4-24-10: It's with sadness that I just learned that one of exergaming's pioneers, the original "exergaming evangelist", passed away last night. Phil Lawler, the creator of PE4Life, finally lost his battle to cancer.

When I first got into this field, back in 1998, Phil was the first exergaming expert to contact me and offer his help and support in anything that I was doing. Over the last decade, Phil would call (he rarely e-mailed) to see how I was doing, tell me about the latest thing he was working on, or give me the scoop on some "inside" info that was happening in the exergaming world. He always had things that escaped my ever-expanding radar!

He was most excited about his latest endeavor, Spark, and the work of Dr. Ratey and the effect of exercise on the brain, kid's academics, etc.

As the field of exergaming continues to grow, mature, and gain credibility, it is sad that Phil won't be around to see the fruits of his labor come to fruition. He fought the good fight, and now is at rest, free from pain and suffering, and for that, we are thankful.

My only regret is that Phil and I never got to meet in person. We kept joking that one day, we would end up at the same conference, or that I would visit his place whenever I was in Chicago, but alas, that day never came. I guess I'll meet him in the next life, for sure! We'll set up an exergaming zone in heaven!

May we all be inspired by his tireless work for the kids, and strive to continue his legacy in whatever work that we do.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

ACSM Summit, Austin, TX

4-7-10: First day here in Austin, TX, at the ACSM Summit. Went to the pre-conf. on Exercise Adherence: thinking outside the box (perfect for exergaming!), met Kathy Smith, the first keynote speaker, and visited Lance Armstrong's bicycle shop, Mellow Johnny's. Ended the day with a yummy Thai dinner with Dr. Beverly Hall and Ed Kasanders (Motion Fitness).

Check out the pictures at this Facebook link:

First presentation tomorrow at 4:30 PM, so better hit the sack!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Newest exergaming product released!

4-1-10: Just rec'd this press release from the makers of this newest exergaming product. It's awesome! I definitely want to get one as soon as they come stateside. I know the creator, Richard, well, so maybe he can hook me up with an early production model...hmmmm. Check it out!


Thursday, March 11, 2010

GDC 2010

3-10-10: Finally, a dream come true--my first Game Developer's Conf.! Thanks to Ben Sawyer for inviting me to be a presenter on an exergaming panel during the Serious Games Summit. It was awesome!

I was part of a panel that consisted of the following (above, L-R): Stephen Yang, Barbara Chamberlin, Sheryl Ashford, and myself.

To see more pictures, go to this facebook album. Had a great time meeting and networking with attendees afterwards.

Now I can relax and focus on networking and checking it all out for the next 2 days. Stay tuned for more updates!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

US Surgeon General to also try exergaming?

2-11-10: Here's another federal VIP, our US Surgeon General, giving her vision for a healthy and fit America.

Hmmmm, wouldn't that be wild if we could get the US Surgeon General Regina squaring off against 1st Lady Michelle in an exergaming tournament playing Makoto, racing each other on a Gamebike, or competing head on with their fave video game while on a Gamerciser?

Thanks to Pam Sampson of the Dept of Public Health, County of San Bernardino, for the following:

Information regarding the Surgeon General’s Vision for a Healthy and Fit Nation 2010. For the full 21 pager visit…

The Surgeon General, Regina Benjamin, M.D., urges that “child care programs should identify and implement approaches that reflect expert recommendations on physical activity, screen time limitations, good nutrition, and healthy sleep practices,” all of which were key actions at the Healthy Kids, Healthy Future conference in September 2009. Action steps to support the Surgeon General’s goal of standardizing state regulations on physical activity, nutrition and screen time, are being addressed by the HKHF Steering Committee. Through changes in policy, dissemination and implementation of best practices, and continued development of the evidence base in research, the child care environment will become a healthier place for kids to grow and develop.

1st Lady to try exergaming???

2-11-10: Will we soon see 1st Lady Michelle Obama try out an exergaming game? That might not be as far-fetched as it sounds, given her new campaign, "Let's Move".

1st Lady Michelle Obama unveils a new initiative as part of her campaign to fight pediatric obesity: "Let's Move". Check it out and join for updates!

One of my goals is to get her to see how exergaming can be of value to her "Let's Move" campaign, especially for the intended target audience--kids who are sedentary (and probably avid videogamers!)--and let her see that exergaming can be a tool to get them to be more physically active. Call it FUN SWEAT!

Feds get into gaming!

2-11-10: Check this out! Feds are getting into gaming for kid's health! Also announced: a contest for game ideas using the USDA food database. Stay tuned for more on that as it beomes available!

Friday, February 5, 2010

Feds get into gaming for tween health!

2-5-10: Federal CTO Aneesh Chopra hosted a workshop with 31 experts (including Digitalmill's Ben Sawyer and Beth Bryant, and UCSB's Debra Lieberman) to gather insight from leading experts in the fields of gaming and technology to inform the development of a nutrition game-design challenge. The Feds will be launching a challenge to come up with videogames that can get "tweens" (ages 9-12) eating better and moving more! Wow!!!

I wonder if Duke's Dr. David Katz and Nuval will be involved with this challenge. That is a great metric for nutrition games. Also, Dr. Roy Vartabedian's Nutripoints would also work as a great metric for a nutrition game. Both consist of databases of food ratings.

You can read more about it at Office of Science and Technology blog. Stay tuned for the official announcement of the challenge, said to be coming out in a couple of weeks!