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Is it an Exergame or Not?

Just because a video game offers a fitness element, it doesn't automatically qualify as an effective exergame. Exergaming goes deeper than just fitness and fun – an ideal exercise gaming experience is fully immersive and interactive, allowing the player to become fully engaged and entertained while participating in a fitness program that really works. There are six important criteria to determine if an exergame offer a complete experience:


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Motivation

Does the exergame continually motivate the player to participate? Any good exercise game will provide helpful, continuous motivation to the player, helping the player keep a positive attitude about doing the exercise and increasing the chances that the player succeeds in meeting their weight, health and fitness goals. Effective exergames will use positive feedback, tips, and even friendly competition to keep players motivated.


Engagement

Does the exergame keep the player involved in the program? By providing an experience that the player can become attached to, exercise games can ensure that players stay engaged in the fitness program. The best games offer a personalized and enjoyable experience, so players can become fully invested in their own personal fitness program.


Energy Expenditure

Does the exergame really burn calories? No matter how fun or enjoyable an exercise game is, it can only be considered effective if it succeeds in helping the player expend energy. Exergames come in many different levels of energy expenditure: some, like Walk It Out, offer a light level of exercise, while others, like Jillian Michaels Fitness Ultimatum, offer intense exercise programs with high levels of calorie burn.


Fun

Is the exergame actually fun? One of the main reasons why people would choose an exergame over the gym is because exercise games are fun. By having fun, players can concentrate less on their heart rates and muscles and more on the activities that they are participating in. It's no secret that the most effective fitness programs are those that keep the focus away from mundane movements, and fun activities will certainly accomplish just that.


Multimedia Feedback

Does the exergame provide real feedback? Good exergames make use of technology to provide visual and audial feedback to the players. Items like the Wii Remote and Wii Balance Board help to track a player's movement, so the game can tell how they're doing and give real feedback on their effort. Some exergames come with additional accessories, such as cameras or heart rate monitors, to provide additional feedback as part of the exercise program.


Game Response Time

Does the exergame actually give realistic response to a player's actions? Tracking a player's movements is all well and good, but it loses its luster if the game isn't able to provide feedback immediately. The best games offer "real time" response, where the game registers movement and provides feedback instantly. Items like the Wii Remote and Wii Balance Board accomplish this by constantly sending information to the Wii console, so the game know exactly how a player is performing in a given activity and can swiftly offer feedback.


Let's see how Wii Fit Plus grades out as a complete exergame experience:

  • Motivation: Yes, the friendly Balance Board character offers frequent friendly encouragement.
  • Engagement: Yes, the customized workout plans keeps players involved in their fitness.
  • Energy Expenditure: Yes, Wii Fit Plus offers a low- to medium-level fitness experience.
  • Fun: Yes, the Training Plus activities offer 15 fun mini games that are both playful and amusing.
  • Multimedia Feedback: Yes, Wii Fit Plus makes use of the Wii Balance Board and the Wii Remote to provide several levels of feedback (balance, lower body tracking, upper body tracking).
  • Game Response Time: Yes, motions are tracked instantly so there is no lag in the action.