Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Research on the Gateway Effect of Exergames and Active Games

Members of TEN! Hear this interesting request for evidence of the reason for exergaming's existence! I'm talking about the gateway effect! Sadly this request is just for published research and I know we all have a ton of evidence outside of the laboratory from our own experience and the experiences of others, but maybe there is a diamond in the rough you can share with Debra? Take a look and see if you can help! Cheers! Richard

I am looking for research on the Gateway Effect of exergames and active games.  Please post to the list any studies you know of (include the bibliographic reference if you have it) and the names of researchers who are doing this research.  Thanks!

Some of us have seen individual cases where a person who was sedentary, never interested in physical activity, began to play Dance Dance Revolution (DDR) or a Wii or Kinect or other physically demanding game and then began exercising in other ways, for example by:

(1) playing more exergames
(2) working out and tracking their workouts with mobile fitness games and apps
(3) working out or being active (walking, swimming, gardening, etc.) in non-video-game physical activities
(4) participating in casual (pick-up games) or formal (joining a team or league) team sports

Is there research investigating the Gateway Effect to determine whether it does occur as a result of first playing an exergame or active game and, even better, investigating the processes by which it occurs?  For example, exergames and active games may influence the following factors, which may lead the player to engage in more physical activity elsewhere too:

(1) increase the player's physical capabilities, strength, muscle tone, endurance, etc.
(2) improve self-confidence and self-efficacy for exercise
(3) help the player experience and realize that physical activity can be enjoyable to do
(4) enhance physical well-being, improve ease of movement, reduce pain and soreness, etc.
(5) reduce stress, improve mental outlook
(6) lead to much-needed weight loss
(7) connect the player with others socially
(8) lead to more praise and approval from others, and social acceptance, for being active with exergames and active games

Also, is there any research evidence that exergames and active games may have the opposite of a Gateway Effect?  Do they reduce physical activity elsewhere?  For example, exergames and active games may:

(1) displace more vigorous physical activity with moderate physical activity and so people who substitute exergames and active games for their usual workout activities may reduce their physical fitness
(2) cause sore muscles and joints and increase injury through repetitive movements
(3) cause over-exertion, which may make physical activity less enjoyable than it used to be
(4) socially isolate people who no longer play team sports and instead play DDR at home
(5) do the opposite of any of the 8 factors listed above that I suggested may lead to more physical activity, and instead they may lead to less physical activity...and/or the opposite of the processes in the 8 factors may occur (such as increasing stress instead of reducing it)

Thanks in advance for sharing bibliographic references of published studies and the names of researchers who are doing this research.


Debra Lieberman, Ph.D., Director
Health Games Research
University of California, Santa Barbara

Monday, 10 June 2013

Going to Games for Health? USA or Europe?


9th Annual

Games for Health Conference

Back Bay Events Center, Boston MA

June 26-28, 2013!

Register Today! http://www.regonline.com/gfh2013

and exhibit opportunities also remain.

bbryant@dmill.com for more information.

Latest schedule up at Sched.org!
Three Days to
Explore...The Role of Videogames in Health & Healthcare
The 9th Annual Games for Health Conference is
coming soon. Register today before prices rise and hotel room availability
dwindles. Join hundreds of developers, health professionals, researchers,
funders, and more at the largest event devoted to games in health &


On November 4-5 join
us in Utrecht, The Netherlands for the 3rd Annual Games for Health Europe

complete details on Games for Health Europe visit:



in 2004, the Games for Health Project supports community, knowledge, and
business development efforts to use cutting-edge games and game technologies to
improve health and health care. The Pioneer Portfolio of the Robert Wood
Johnson Foundation is the lead conference sponsor and a major supporter of the
Games for Health Project. To date, the project has brought together
researchers, medical professionals, and game developers to share information
about the impact games and game technologies can have on health, health care,
and policy.

major effort of the Games for Health Project is the annual Games for Health
Conference. Over three days, more than 400 attendees will participate in over
60 sessions provided by an international array of 80+ speakers, cutting across
a wide range of activities in health and health care. Topics include
exergaming, physical therapy, disease management, health behavior change,
biofeedback, rehab, epidemiology, training, cognitive health, nutrition, and
health education.

(via http://gamercize.blogspot.com/2013/06/going-to-games-for-health-usa-or-europe.html)

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Where is the Education in P.E from Exergaming?

Active Video Gaming uses in Physical Education

I've just spotted a new comment on a Gamercize YouTube video that opens a critisim of exergaming that a lot of active games struggle to answer - where's the education component? The overriding answer to this question is there is none, as the game is just a tool for the PE teacher to use. However - some games give the teacher more to work with.

Here's the video that was commented on:

The comment says "I like the overall idea and objective of this, but how are kids working on fundamental movement skills and such. Sure this is getting heart rates up, but not actually teaching them any skills or ways to stay active throughout their lives."

Yes, Gamercize does raise HR to moderate to vigorous levels, so that's a tick in the box for physical activity, but what of  the skill component? True, Gamercize is not teaching kids how to catch, but we're looking at more advanced kids - the ones that are engaged by video games.

Gamercize in this implementation is being used to teach
  • Sport strategy - seeing the big picture of team interaction and how tactics can be employed
  • Team play - co-operation and communication between teams of 2 to achieve a sports objective
  • Physiology - which muscles are working and how energy is being created for them 

I'm not a PE teacher, so that is just first impression view and I'm sure those more experience in PE will be able to find different modes of implementation that lever the power of engagement into video games to reach lesson objectives!

As for the second part of the question above, kids are like wind-up toys - just give them the opportunity to get moving and give them a start and they'll keep on moving :)

Originally posted at http://gamercize.blogspot.com/2013/03/where-is-education-in-pe-for-exergaming.html

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Sitting is our gen's smoking

1-16-13: Great article and title on the dangers of sitting too much! If you set a lot, then read this article by the HBR Blog Network. The author talks about how she's incorporated "walking meetings" to combat this...what if we had "exergaming breaks" like smokers have smoking breaks?

One solution: Play a short 2-3 minute exergame every hour to protect your health!Instead of smoking areas, have "exergaming break areas" where employees can break the hold of sitting too much, of hypokinetic disease!

Now that would make an interesting employee wellness study, looking at the effects of such a break area on a business. ;-) 

Friday, 11 January 2013

Exergames help pediatric obesity in inner city schools

1-11-13: Finally some nice press on exergaming, reported by Discovery News and listed in the Robert Woods Johnson Foundation News Digest for Pediatric Obesity. A study on how exergames can help battle childhood obesity, a report on a study by lead author Todd Miller at GWU School of Public Health. Read about it here. It was published in the Games for Health Journal recently.

Activity trackers & other fitness gadgets @ CES

1-10-13: The Consumer Electronic Show (CES) is going on right now in Las Vegas. I have my pass to attend, but due to a last-minute change in plans, I wasn't able to go this week. (No worries, it was a nice change of plans--was in Florida last week for the grand opening of the Florida Hospital Wesley Chapel Health and Wellness Center!).

Well came across this article that talked about two new activity trackers that are encroaching on FitBit and BodyMedia's space. You can read about them in the links below.

Wthing Smart Activity Tracker - can also measure heart rate, though in the way a Mio does
Basis Band - can measure heart rate continuously

On a related note, I just rec'd my Jawbone Up, a bracelet activity tracker that I was supposed to get at TEDMed '11, but due to technical difficulties which caused a recall, I didn't get it till a couple of days ago. And man, is it nice! Love the design and form of it, and I'm less likely to lose or misplace it like my FitBit...which ironically, also just came out with their own bracelet activity tracker! Haven't tried that out, but heard it was very similar to the other FitBits (2 other models now). You can read more about the Fitbit Flex  here.

These are just some of the health gadgets that have come out at CES this week. If you'd like to see more, check out this "slideshow of health devices at CES". There are more activity trackers there, as well as some other unusual devices that you probably didn't know you needed!

Here are some that you can also read about:

 BodyMedia Core2...waterproof and reads heart rate right from your tricep!
The Fitlinxx Pebble isn't being sold to consumers directly, but being marketed to employers as part of an employee wellness program. Hmm, wonder if we can get it for our LIFE program?

Now if someone will just make some kind of device to track our EATING as easily as these gadgets track our activity...come on, I know the technology already exists!!! I hope someone is working on it right now.

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Exploring Unknowns with Exergaming

I had written this a little while ago, but the sentiment is still valid and at this time of goodwill, sharing, friendship and helping others, I thought it was particularly relevant to post.

Unusually for an article about exergaming we are starting outdoors. At 3,500 feet to be precise. Like many of us I am comfortable with flying as a means of transport. I also enjoy flying as a pastime having earned my wings some years back qualifying to pilot light aircraft. At few thousand feet in this Cessna, I am neither comfortable nor enjoying the flight. I feel cold, I feel apprehensive, I feel unsure, I feel not in control. The once familiar rolling green countryside passing below no longer looks picturesque, it looks menacing and alien. With a cacophony of noise and blast of cold air, the side of the Cessna opens up, and I find myself at the open door, gripping the aircraft for fear of falling out. Over the noise of the engine and the roar of the slipstream I hear myself questioning how I got in this situation, how this looks like a really long way down, how I wished I was not here, uncertain of what will happen, what could happen, what to do. Then I jumped.

The members of The Exergame Network successfully raised $350 for me to take on this challenge of a solo skydive to raise money for much needed exergame research. The Exergame Network (TEN) is a non-profit, unaffiliated and unbiased group of individuals with a common goal, to advocate the appropriate use of exergaming to improve health and fitness. The group started from an expansion in interest of the genre of exergaming and a need to continue the debates between that of the annual Games for Health conferences in Boston. TEN created resources, such as the TEN wiki, and used collaboration tools such as Skype and Google Docs to advance understanding and structure thinking around exergaming.

The work of TEN led to identification that exergaming in practice was progressing far faster than research could keep up. Members of the network identified what these gaps are, from creating and analysing an evidence base of published studies on it’s wiki. We then established what progressive research questions could be asked in order to get “what we can prove” in line with “what we know”. Closing this gap is a priority for the advocacy of TEN.

In order for TEN to close this gap we are pulling together resources from its members to arrive at a package of awards that can be granted to aid the inception and completion of the missing studies. My skydive was just a part of this package, raising money that will be used for buy out from class or research assistant’s time. With a strong contingent of established researchers, academic and clinicians the awards package also includes free consultancy time to aid newcomers. This experience in exergaming provides a big advantage in the methodology and study design.

There is also a wealth of exergaming manufacturers, distributors and implementers within the TEN network that alongside pledges of free consultancy for the award package are able to donate or loan exergaming equipment to facilitate studies. We even have members who are pledging facilities, and in some instances with populations already pre-engaged in exergaming.

Completing the awards package we have pledges of dissemination opportunities that include a pre-agreed poster session and a journal publication (subject to editorial controls). When this package of awards is finalised in the new year a panel from TEN will be inviting submissions for study proposals which will answer our research questions and fill the gap between theory and practice. Successful applications will receive the awards that aid the complete process from design to publication.

Completing this project has significant outcomes. For the people “at the coal face”, supporting, promoting and implementing exergaming the publication of studies that confirm what we are telling people about exergaming will be the evidence basis to help progress the genre. For the academic community the seeding of studies in exergaming will enable more progressive research to be carried out, and give a foundation for researchers beyond simple energy expenditure studies.

Where does that leave me? Like the state of exergaming research today, I am hanging in limbo, under a parachute canopy. I soon realise there is a problem. My canopy lines are twisted and the parachute is not controllable. From the instruction of the course I know what I need to do to resolve the problem and I follow the advice to separate the risers and kick out of the twists. Under full control I can clearly see the direction I need to take and maneuver for the landing pattern. Having the advantage of experience from my fixed wing qualifications it is easy for me to fly the pattern and bring the canopy onto final approach. As I come in to landing I have a talk-down via radio to ensure my pre-landing checks are correct. Resisting the natural temptation to slow the canopy I approach on “full drive”, flaring at the right time and right height to make a successful landing.

As I walk alone back to the manifest area I realise that the success of the jump was down to having the right information to start with, the application of experience to a new environment and the continual support and guidance throughout the final landing phase. This is comparable to the experience TEN will be providing for researchers and students willing to take a leap of faith into the genre of exergaming research.

Originally posted at http://gamercize.blogspot.com/2012/12/exploring-unknowns-with-exergaming.html

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

The Cause of Obesity

(Source: http://gamercize.blogspot.com)

It should come as no shock that there is an obesity crisis. We hear it in the news every now and again, but what's the problem. A few more fat people? It's actually quite a serious issue.

For an individual take a look at this graphic

(source : https://www.ldh.nhs.uk/obesity_01.htm)

For the population that's not overweight of obese (congratulations!) there is still a serious issue
(source : http://www.getamericafit.org/statistics-obesity-in-america.html)

What this means is fit or fat, you're affected by obesity, either in your health or your wealth.

This is an outcry I hear you say. I'd agree. There is no mistake that I have cited UK and USA sources above, obesity is a global epidemic - a pandemic. So what are our individual countries doing to fix this for us?

The the UK we have the Change4Life campaign. Eat less, move more! Great. In the USA we have Healthy People and latterly supplemented with Let's Move! In Canada there's of course Active Healthy Kids Canada. Everything's ok now we have these great quasi-government organisations fighting for our health?

Not quite. All of these organisations have a common flaw. They do not adapt, they do not learn, they do not get disbanded if they are ineffective.

First on the block for the chop is Healthy Active Kids Canada.
"Since the formation of the Active Healthy Kids Canada in 1994, according to "Obesity in Canada - Snapshot" published by the Public Health Agency of Canada, the levels of obesity have grown from just over 20% to nearly 25%."
Next up Healthy People 2010
 "Since the inception of Healthy People 2010 in 1999, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the states in America that have an obesity prevalence of 30% grew from zero states in 2000 to 12 states in 2010".
What about Change4Life?
"Since the creation of the Change4Life campaign in 2009, according to the National Health Service commissioned statistics via ONS, the percentage of overweight or obese children had grown from 17% reported in 2009 to 30%"

Why if the obesity problem is recognized and agencies have been set up to combat the problem is it still getting worse? Costing us our health and our wealth? The answer is a lack of knowledge about the population they are trying to help. Technology is becoming increasingly more important in work and leisure for the modern western individual and these agencies are still touting the "go play outside" message for increasing physical activity. All of them have dismissed exergaming as part of the solution.

Exergaming is dismissed because a few studies in Nintendo Wii have failed to produce the illusive 60 minutes of MVPA (Moderate to Vigourous Physical Activity, basically, being out of puff) that most governments recommend. Equally, most people get bored of Wii Sports and go play Mario Kart instead. The lack in understanding of exergaming, and the natural aversion to technology, causes the obesity agencies to make a fatal (that'l be fatal you you, not them) mistake and provide incorrect guidance. So what if exergaming ticked the boxes for sustainability, for MVPA?

Contrary to stereotypical or ignorant belief, exergames can. At least, Gamercize can. If you only ever read one piece of research this decade, make it this one. Exergaming MVPA, sustainability and of course comparison against the dreaded Wii.

(source : http://exergaming.pbworks.com/w/file/61482197/BHF%20Exergaming%20Poster.pdf)

So what causes obesity? Ignorance. Or to be blunt - the ignorance of the agencies set up to combat the situation. We know exergaming works, see above, but the agencies deny this. I would rather suggest honest stupidity over a desire to worsen the crisis in order to justify the expansion the respective agencies budgets. Well, maybe I might just hint at that.

Source: The Cause of Obesity

Saturday, 24 November 2012

Taking a leap of faith for Exergaming

The Exergame Network Fundraiser

A couple of days before Thanksgiving Richard Coshott took a “leap of faith” out of an airplane to raise money for an organization that he is very passionate about, The Exergaming Network (TEN).

Coshott raised nearly $400 using Fundraise.com and that money will go towards paying for research that needs to be done. One of the biggest challenges in growing TEN is trying to convince organizations, schools, educators and anyone involved with making decisions on how exergaming isn’t just video games.

Exergaming is very beneficial to students and it is great way to keep students active. Coshott was nervous about the jump, but knows that it help raise awareness for TEN’s goals.

“When you have a door open to an airplane at 3,000 feet it goes against every natural instinct to jump out,” Coshott said. ”We have raised the profile of the initiative, and the knock on effect is we have some great partnership relationships in construction.”

He is excited about creating more fundraisers with Fundraise.com in the future and loved working with the team on creating a successful fundraiser.

“The great part about using Fundraise is that we can add to our activities, so we’re expecting to add more fundraisers,” Coshott added. 

There is a lot of research to be done in the coming months, and some of the topics that need to be tackled include: Positive Behaviour Effects, Gateway Effect, Comparative Enjoyment of Physical Activity, Health Benefits of Exergaming, Family health benefits of Exergaming, Cognitive benefits of exergaming and Improved social confidence from Exergaming.

Coshott is hoping that exergaming will continue accross the globe in the United States. One of the biggest challenges in the US is that with the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) legislation, money has been diverted away from physical education and the arts and towards teaching to the test to try to meet the requirements of of NCLB.

But Coshott sees exergaming as a great way to keep kids in shape and educate them at the same time. Some studies show that students who regularly exercise perform better academically.

“Exergaming is brilliant to give all kids a chance to be active and successful in physical activity,” Coshott added. “One goal of TEN is to educate these schools so that they can implement a successful and rewarding experience for the school and the students. The good news is that exergaming can help; so long as we know how to use it and we have the proof that it does say what we say it does.
And that leads back to the reason why TEN needs financial support.
 “Hence the reason TEN is doing all the work to get the gaps filled in exergaming research and hence the reason I jumped out of a plane last weekend,” Coshott exclaimed.

Here is video of Coshott taking his “literal leap of faith” to help support the TEN: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5IXZje4axsk&feature=g-all-u
To read the previous entry on this fundraiser, visit: http://blog.fundraise.com/post/35724102079/growing-the-exergaming-network-one-player-at-a-time, to read more more about the Fundraiser, visit: https://www.fundraise.com/the-exergame-network/active-gamer

Originally posted at :

Friday, 16 November 2012

Jumping into Exergaming Research

The Exergame Network is a not for profit advocacy group promoting exergaming that wishes to give students new opportunities in research. On November 18, Richard Coshott, Chairman, will be taking a literal leap of faith to launch a new initiative.

PRLog (Press Release) - Nov 16, 2012 -
Coshott will be going through two days training towards a solo skydive to support and raise money for the exergaming movement. The Exergame Network (TEN) will use the funds collected through this fundraiser to support new generation researchers with their study costs into active gaming and exergaming.

TEN has been long aware that the limitations of exergaming are public knowledge, dissemination and evidence base rather than failings of exergaming equipment or the individuals who deliver the experiences. To address this TEN has collaborated to identify the top research questions, and therefore evidence, required to understand exergaming.

Coshott is hoping that more research will help bring exergaming to the forefront.
“There a is a widening gap between what we know and what we can prove. Research is stuck in Exergaming 101 with energy expenditure studies. The collaboration of academics and deliverers of exergaming within TEN has explored the practice and theory, concluding there isn’t enough quality research that answers the questions that we want answered,” Coshott said.
Shellie Pfohl, President's Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition at USF, FL

There are several studies that need to be funded. These studies fall into the following categories: positive behavior effects, gateway effect and comparative enjoyment, health benefits, family health benefits, cognitive and improved social confidence through exergaming.

For these categories, TEN will be providing a package of incentives including cash for research assistants or buy out from classes, exergaming equipment donations and loans, use of exergaming facilities, dissemination opportunities at conferences, publication opportunities and professional and academic expertise.

For more information about exergaming and to get involved with a pledge, visit http://www.facebook.com/groups/exergaming/ or follow the movement on Twitter at https://twitter.com/ExergameNetwork.

To donate to the cause, visit: https://www.fundraise.com/