“What is the deal with exergaming?” Sound like something Seinfeld would say? Perhaps.
Yesterday, two blog posts ( one was linked to the other ) briefly discussed why exergaming wasn’t “clicking” in the commercial fitness industry. According to blog editor of both posts Marc Onigman “ it may be because TV is a passive medium.” I’d agree that the act of watching TV might be a physically passive experience, but so is reading, going to the movies, attending operas and plays, working on the computer and sitting at a cafe chatting with friends. (Granted, the latter might be more intellectually, emotionally, psychologically stimulating - but that’s a different argument.)
Anyone who has played exergames like Nintendo Wii or Dance Dance Revolution knows that exergaming is not a passive activity. Simply because these games are developed on platforms that require a TV and/or screen connection, doesn’t discount its effectiveness. In fact, there are plenty of exergames that do not require a TV output.
Dr.Ernie Medina (exergaming evangelist and CEO of XRTainment Zone ) posted excellent comments on Onigman’s blog! Medina showed evidence in favor of exergaming. One key point that he articulated was how its impact had gained big support in the health and fitness arena: “The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation recently announced an $8.25 MILLION grant for interactive gaming research.”
Exergaming’s low adoption rate in commercial fitness industry has little to do with TV and everything to do with the commercial fitness industry. Health clubs and gym facilities, which often cater to the active population who enjoy the traditional gym environment, are sticking to fitness programs that work (or have minimal financial risk). They have an audience that prefers seeing weight machines, not gaming machines. I think clubs are holding back and watching the exergaming trend evolve, waiting for the right time to decide if they should make an investment or not (essentially, a good business practice, no?)
But exergames are not going away, they are gaining more mainstream momentum. How it will change the purpose, function, and audience of a health club - only time can tell. Some believe those health clubs that do invest, will stay on top of their game (yes, pun intended), and those that don’t - well, it would be like walking into a premiere club of today and seeing zero indoor cycling equipment and zero Spinning classes. They’d simply be outdated.