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video games and fitness

Since their inception in the 1980s, video games have undergone an evolution in technological capabilities. Players of video games now have the opportunity to immerse themselves in three-dimensional environments and use their entire bodies—rather than their fingers and thumbs—to interact with virtual environments. Society’s views have also progressed from a view of video games as mindless entertainment to more ‘legitimate’ forms of entertainment that are intellectually stimulating and even artistic . As the age of the average gamer has increased and the stigma of being a “gamer” has declined, games have begun to push the limits of human imagination.

Health and fitness are two related areas for which video games are now being designed. By entertaining the player with audiovisual stimulation and motivating her using game theory, she can initiate and adhere to an exercise program that will increase both physical and mental health.

An even more novel gaming experience is now possible, one that improves health and fitness by allowing players to collaborate and/or compete in virtual worlds. The first layer of the gaming experience will involve the use of gym equipment to control on-screen characters in real-time gaming environments. The second layer will involve the use of user-generated data (e.g. weight loss, gym attendance, total miles biked on exercycle) to enhance real-time competition (e.g. obtain access to areas of virtual arena, improved weaponry, vehicle upgrades, etc.). The third layer will involve the aggregation of second layer data at the team level to further enhance the gaming experience.

Importantly, the design will allow for universal inclusivity regardless of age, gender, physical fitness, or disability. By changing the translation of physical inputs to on-screen outputs into a modifiable variable, players of all abilities can meaningfully contribute to the team. A new kind of video game is thus created: one that motivates the pursuit of health using both technology and human interaction

More in depth paper available upon request at [email protected]

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