Video games are a part of our lives – children, adolescents and adults alike. There is no doubt that video games are here to stay, no matter how we raise our eyebrows about the growing ‘screen time’ of our children or the sedentary life that these games promote. But in recent times, motion-based gaming is set to increase the scope of video games by bounds. Gaming systems like Wii Fit and Kinect employ motion-based video gaming technology, where the players have to employ physical movements to play the game.
According to a research, the energy expenditure in a 30-minute session is within the guidelines of recommended physical exercise levels by American College of Sports Medicine (for young adults). This opens up the huge possibilities of motion-based games – they can be utilized not only to acquire new skills but also to fight the sedentary lifestyle that is the curse of modern work life. This lack of exercise is the reason behind lifestyle diseases like obesity and diabetes. Can motion-based games help?
A research conducted by a team of experts from Winthrop University and the University of New Mexico investigated further into the pre-conceived notions and experiences of physical trainers with motion-based learning through video games. Here are some of the findings:
- A great motivator: Motion-based learning can be individualized as per the needs and requirements of the user. This provides the motivation to interact more and get better results within the game. In a real-life scenario, activities can be too difficult or strenuous for the user to feel motivated and they soon lose interest. On the other hand, if the activity is too easy, the user feels dejected after the first few tries and eventually, here too, loses interest. In a virtual scenario, motion-based games can be set per the physical capabilities of the user and can thus provide a truly invigorating experience.
- Increases physical output: By measuring the heart rate and the total energy consumed by motion-based games, it is evident that these games are successful in getting the users up and about in a productive manner. By building suitable re-enforcements within the games – such as a ‘winners’ gallery’, badges, or actual takeaways like free coupons and so on – the competitive spirit of users can be kindled and they can be pushed into putting greater effort into the game.
- Helps in learning basics: It is true that nothing beats actual physical exercise on the field. But for newbies, motion-based games are a useful way to ease into the basic concepts of a game or sport. This has two major benefits. For one, it builds the confidence of the user who often fears looking like a fool in front of fellow advanced players. Once the new players get the basics right in the virtual scenario, they feel more confident in applying the basics in the actual field. Secondly, motion-based games also create a knack for sports in general and make the user more open to the idea of regular exercise as a pro-health practice.
- Ups the enjoyment component: Finally, motion-based games definitely up the excitement and enjoyment factor. Going to the gym or spending time at the tennis courts can be drudgery for some. The reasons are many – shortage of time, the feeling of being ‘judged’ or just being the ‘only one’ out there. With motion-based games, the user can experience the game as per his or her time schedule. So, while it may not be feasible to make a trip to the gym at 11 pm at night, it would be possible to work out with ‘Kinect Dance Central’ – no matter how early or late in the day. In a virtual setting, slow beginners and more reluctant players can play at their own pace – they do not feel the pressure of an actual real-life physical event. This is a motivator for them to do better – all the while enjoying the experience much more. Peers and fellow workers from the workplace can gather on the virtual platform to play together – building camaraderie and team spirit.
In conclusion, it is clear from the findings of the research that motion-based video games are definitely useful in motivating users for physical activities and making the experience a whole lot of fun as well. The findings also discuss the limitations of the medium – the primary one being that this might not be the most effective way for us to get exercise or even learn a new sport. But in spite of it, it is a stepping stone. Motion-based games can definitely motivate users for a better lifestyle by adopting physical exercise. In the corporate scenario, we are already creating motion-based trainings that help learners inculcate new skills and practice them to perfection. The immense possibility of utilizing game based learning technology for boosting employee health can also not be ignored.
Source and suggested further reading: http://sicet.org/journals/ijttl/issue1301/6_seth.pdf