Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Braingaming for seniors

Exergame-project just accomplished a prelimiary study of braingaming. Thanks to Amo Oy we got NDS consoles and the games: Big Brain Academy and Brain Training to be utilized in user tests. Our consumer researchers organized group interviews with experts, seniors (Enter Ry) and 45+ working age people. The results were very encouraging and rousing! We shall continue more practical research tasks in the fall 2007 hopefully with companies active in the field.


Monday, June 04, 2007

Boxing Box!

Another type of exergaming: Boxing Box!

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Exergaming for tourists

Another interesting outcome from VTT's Exergame project is out. VTT is about to develop exergame / locative media services together with Finnish tourism industry. User generated content, free and proactive participation, exploratory travelling and experiences are strong trends also in the area of tourism. Finnish tourism industry is developing mobile services for tourist to get more out of the hiking experience in the Finnish forests.

VTT has developed a service to enable the travellers to make their own schedule as well as create plays, stories or routes to be shared with their families (travelogue) or other travellers (playful routing guide). The solution is as simple as PictoGame. One just have to take photos, add text and/or record sounds and make it a game. It can be anything from basic orienteering from one location to another to more complex games.

The prototype is now ready and further development will be started in the fall 2007 with companies.

Exergame approach to floorball training

Finnish starup A4SP has just released their first exergame product. They approach is a bit different than the typical idea of exergaming. This far majority of the solutions have been either home fitness equipment type of interfaces to console and PC games or alternative interfaces and new ways of interaction such as Nintendo Wii and Playstation EyeToy.

A4SP is developing exergames that improve the performance of team sports participants. At first A4SP product is utilized in floorball training. A4SP product enables measurement and comparison of the results worldwide in a playful way.

There is not yet too much public information available but this certainly is a refreshing and innovative approach to exergaming.

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Monday, March 12, 2007

The Next Big Thing

We have been following the development the trend of Exergames. Thanks to Google Alert (and Fight, Trend...) we have been able to anticipate the rise of the trend. Recently The Economist published an interesting article on Exergames. You'll find a recap of the article from here.

As we know, there are number of alternatives for the "Next Big Thing" and probably there will be several big things coming up. In any case we have to agree that such issues as gesture interfaces for console/PC/mobile, social gaming and ways to allure new groups into gaming are all established in exergames. Also please check out VTT's Exergame seminar materials. Some of the slides are in Finnish. If you want to get more details and more information in general about our findings and the future trends, send me (Sonja Kangas) a message (@vtt.fi).

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Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Building blocks of Exergame genre?

Ian Bogost from Georgia Institute of Technology proclaimed that: "Those interested in exergames should be particularly interested in establishing new ritual practices unique to videogames. Guitar Hero and Wii Sports are successful examples of ritual-bound physical games, but they borrow their rituals entirely from other domains. "

Social rituals might be just what is needed but I think this comment also highlights the variety of important issues when building up a new game genre or form of sport. What type of activity exergaming is anyway. Should we consider exergames as games or novel type of physical activity? What type of social rituals will create exergame culture?

Please check out more about this from Serious Games Source.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Exergame project will continue until June 2007

Last year we did a lot of background studies and finished two Exergame prototypes. The prototypes will be further developed at an spin off company and another projects. In 2007 (January - June) we will continue working with youth but also focus on seniors because 66+ year olds were bring forth interesting notions - weak signals if you prefer - at the consumer study.

We will also do networking -- and I would like to urge any one of you (universities and companies) to drop me a line if you are interested in some sort of cooperation. We will be at the GDC07 in San Francisco (5th - 9th March 2007), network with CITRIS network at the Silicon valley as well as Sendai / Tohoku University in Japan.

We see that there are certain technological trends that are global as well as similar needs and ideas rising. One way to cultivate the ideas further is to cooperate!

Our first workshop will be held in Espoo, Finland on 20th February 2007. Miniseminar on mobile exergames and other forms of serious gaming will focus on technology trends, user needs and ways to utilize digital entertainment to motivate to do sport and to share information or advertise in new ways.We will bring some research findings (from Exergame-project), current solutions (In the Groove dance pads for 8 players and Nintendo Wii) as well as future visions (VT's mobile exergame prototypes). You are warmly welcome if you happen to be around :)
More information: Exergame web site.

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Thursday, November 30, 2006

Technologies enable misuse of exergame services

Lately we (the project group) have been busy finishing our prototypes and accomplishing the user tests. There were a number of interesting findings from the tests. Basically both youngsters and adults (~50 year olds) were exited about exergames on the basis of the user tests of Figuremeter and Fitness Adventure prototypes. Just to highlight some observations: Young people were afraid of cheating and bullying. They consider a possibility that a school mate could e.g. force you to exercise on behalf of him/her. The teaser could get the benefit out of the exercise. If the exercise would be measured by a pedometer one could just "put the pedometer to a blender and get 10 000 steps in a minute". Such issues are avoidable by technical choices.

Adult users wanted to be entertainment but thought the Fitness Adventure game created by the project team was too naiive. They would like to get dynamic, informational, social and entertaining exercise experiences out of exergames. Our mobile prototypes were especially good for casual exercise, walking to work or school, hanging around the mall and/or light walking.

In relation to 'misuse' and/or challenges with the exergames, I came across Wired News article on 'Nike+ IPod = Surveillance'. According to Univ. of Washington researchers: Ipod+Nike has some security flaws. They claim that tech-savvy abusers could stalk, track individuals' movements or even temp thieves into crime. We (at the Exergame project) have considered ways to activate women to get into exergaming. Many women do not like pulse meters, wristop computers or any of that. I have considered Ipod+Nano to be a nice novelty for the casual exercisers as many women not into technology are into music and listen music while exercising.

Still there seem to be a number of issues to take under consideration and lessons to be learned from current solutions. For me this was "out-of-the-box" thinking in a way. I have been focused on games, technologies, easiness of use, mobile services, motivational issues and consumer segments. That is all valuable information but it is also true that after a single stalker episode, it would take a long time until single women joggers would trust similar service or concept again.