Games can be good for you in many ways– and there has been an explosion of play systems and gadgets recently to help with obesity and fitness. Some new products have surfaced to popularity over last few months. Zamzee, Striiv, and SlimKicker are just a few of the examples popping up to join older systems such as Bodybugg. Yes, studies have shown that Wii and specifically DDR-style dance games can encourage weight loss, so there is significant promise for personal devices that come along on your day to also help you play.
Because many people already lug mobile phones, apps such as SlimKicker may be the easiest to “level up your body.” Striiv bills itself as a “Smart Pedometer” that creates personal challenges on the fly as you go about your day. The Fitbit, is the least obtrusive and sturdiest made of the standalone movement tracking, calorie-counting devices, but it does not tie into later game systems (one model does, however, track your sleep, so if you play a lot of games, you may be shocked to see FitBit’s real assessment of how long it takes you to fall asleep and how much shut-eye you actually get.
These many exergame products, if not specifically gaming, use gamification point structures as key motivational factors. Designed to track steps, stairs, and distance and motivate players to become more fit, I think the range and quality of these systems will continue to increase this year until we have some serious wellness device wars on our hands. Tiltfactor folks are interested, not only because we always pay attention to games as catalysts for behavior change, but also because we are embarking on some new games for wellness and health care delivery. Stay tuned!