GHC2014: Integrating Gaming and Fitness Panel

From left to right: Miko (Microsoft), Katherine (Sevencut), Ellen (GTech) and Amber (Salesforce)

This is post 1/4 of talks I’m covering as a volunteer for the GHC community. You can view the wiki page here to find more information!

I’ve played a lot of DDR and Just Dance, so this talk was really interesting to me. It was a panel format, so we had three marvelous ladies comment on various aspects of „exergaming“ and answer questions by the marvelous moderator. Read on for the discussions! (The answers are combined key points from all three speakers).

Q: Who are fitness games for?
A: Everyone can have a reason to play a fitness game. The older you are, the more likely you are to play games. Games can provide incentives for people to work out (who otherwise might not because they don’t want to go to the gym). Exergaming can also make physical therapy fun for certain cases.

Q: What do you see as the most successful fitness video games?
A: Dance Dance Revolution! Any games capable of capturing real physical motion are likely to be successful. Accessibility is another key success factor: Just Dance (colors, doesn’t judge you much). Another great thing Just Dance does is the provide access to the World Dance Stage, where you can just jump online and play with people all over the world.

Making these games competitive is also great for motivating people to keep playing and to keep exercising because they have something concrete to work towards in the game. They can also set their own goals (e.g. „lose 10 pounds,“ or „get the high score!“).

Q: What is lacking in fitness gaming?
A: In one word – longevity. We should incorporate features of other games like stories and user-generated content. We can also make these games more difficult (she wants a 3-mile run incorporated into the game!). We’re moving away from simple point-and-shoot in all gaming sectors (shift towards narratives) so it makes sense for fitness games to do the same.

Q: Which is more important – the technologies or the games behind them?
A: The question is – should you create hardware then software? Or the other way around? It really depends on what kind of resources you have available to you. No matter what you choose, you should take advantage of it. For example, with a Wii-mote, remember that you get vibration feedback that can train your reactions. With the smartphones, you want to tap into all the sensors available.

Q: What do you want to see in the future of fitness and gaming?
A: Diversity is the goal – diversity of games and diversity of people who play the games. If pricing of these games is an issue (which it sometimes is) then there are lots of Indie games and hacked games for consumes to experience with. Esports is another venue for fitness games to make their mark.

Q: What do you think about the move of fitness games to mobile?
A: An example is Zombie Run, but there aren’t many others that come to mind. This is a good area for research and development. (The attendee who asked this question wants to integrate all the various devices like FitBit and our ever-present phones. Sounds like a great direction to go in!)


General things to keep in mind:
1) Games should be fun! Never lose sight of this!
2) Create something from start to end on your own.
3) If you’re passionate about something, be involved in the communities that exist. If there isn’t one yet for your community, create one!

I am so inspired by how well these women know their field. Not just the speakers, but also the ladies in the audience who had all these great thought-provoking questions. It shows how aware they are about their passions, and it’s really amazing to witness.


Twitter handles for the speakers:
Miko: @evaliation
Katherine: @kathesagona
Amber: @amberbachlani

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