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Drawing Parallels Between Web 2.0 and Games For Health
 

Drawing Parallels Between Web 2.0 and Games For Health

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How do certain Web 2.0 technologies impact people’s health and fitness decisions? Are the audiences who spend hours of screen time in online destinations like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Second ...

How do certain Web 2.0 technologies impact people’s health and fitness decisions? Are the audiences who spend hours of screen time in online destinations like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Second Life similar to the audiences who are drawn to exergaming and other games for health? Which outcomes from playing video games parallel those who micro-blog, engage in online social networks and nurture their avatars in virtual worlds? As programmers and researchers, what can we learn from making these observations?

Since the advent of broadband technology and the increased prevalence of wireless networks, the web has evolved into a powerful, interactive and ‘real-time’ environment – allowing content to be much more user-centric and user-generated. And because of this shift in digital culture, more fitness professionals are embracing online tools to create everything from fitness podcasts to cyber coaching sessions.

The objective of this brief, informal session is to bring these ideas to the forefront of our conversations, as they relate to games for health. More research is needed in this area and potential collaborative efforts could benefit from having gaming/web-based hybrids.

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  • Photo Credit: http://flickr.com/photos/jillslivingroom/219403687/ http://flickr.com/photos/travelinlibrarian/113353477/ http://flickr.com/photos/midnightglory/2442806945/
  • Here’s what got me thinking about this relationship. We
  • I have always been thin but all the sitting in front of the PC is taking its toll now that I'm getting older. I have begun to get a little heavier around the waist. I don't eat a lot but the weight seems to stay on these days. Most of the time I don't have the luxury of just getting out of the house/office. And being an introvert, I'm not enamored of the idea of exercising in full view of *shudder* people. I regularly do press-ups (60 per night) and sit-ups (30 per night) and some fetching and carrying, but that is all and these days it isn't enough. I need a solid and effective routine that will tone all my muscle groups efficiently. Do any Slashdotters have a regular workout routine that can be performed in the privacy of the home to shave off those pounds?"
  • After scanning through most of the comments, I began noticing that these responses were probably more ineffective than good. In fact, most fell under THREE categories: 1) JUDGMENTS : Health behavior change is hard enough without being judged about your current lifestyle choices. If people feel misperceived by a person or community, they may either tune out any ‘health’ advice from them or re-frame their commitment to that person or community. When the writer plainly states that he didn’t “have the luxury of just getting out of the house/office,” why did so many comments criticize him for staying indoors all the time, asking why he didn’t make ’spending time outside’ a priority. Some suggested his personality was the ‘problem’ he needed to take care of first. Another dismissively said, “So you’re an introvert. Big deal! Exercise in front of people anyway.” Imagine how it must feel to get not one, not two, but hundreds of comments in less than 24-hour period basically questioning your actions, motivations, and… well, YOU. But, I assume “Anonymous Coward” already knew the rules of the internet and should have expected some conversations to be cruel. 2) NON-ATTENTIVE : It’s amazing how much people simply don’t listen to other people. How is suggesting kayaking, biking, rollerblading or hiking going to help this poor indoorsman? The guy spends his time inside - what part of “inside” didn’t they understand? And why do people think that getting a ‘gym buddy’ and joining a martial arts club or a community swim team is an effective form of motivation for a guy who clearly doesn’t like the thought of exercising in front of people? Don’t get me wrong - outdoor activities and community support are all great suggestions. But great for who? It seemed no one was considering the variables: indoor, PC-geek guy who does pushups/situps. One person did suggest taking on an exercise video game, specifically Yourself Fitness (also available on PC), but that post also included ‘having sex’ as a viable option. Classy. 3) EXERCISE INFORMATION : Although this is not the most resourceful site for health/fitness information, there were a few folks who claimed they were knowledgeable in the field of weight training and weight loss. (And hyperlinking to health-related websites doesn’t count). These were the ones who took the time to write thesis-length posts on the physiology of caloric expenditure. Unfortunately, it led to a series of broken discussion threads about ‘who had the right answers’ vs. ‘who didn’t know what they were talking about’. And if any reasonable advice was included among the bunch, good luck sorting through 1600+ comments to find it. Let’s face it, the average reader doesn’t really care to apply Mifflin’s predictive equation for calculating resting metabolic rate. I’d probably be more interested in the ‘muffin’ equation of blueberry-baked goods and justifying their caloric intake. To counter my point, I will say that there were some positive comments that came out of this forum. For instance, other introverts banned together, reclaiming their thrown and proposing there be a sport for all introverts! Countless other posts took the “biking to work” suggestion seriously, spinning-off into an entirely new discussion - from the pros/cons of showering at work to fighting for cyclist equality on the road. And there were a few joke-tellers in the forum… so I did laugh at a few funnies. In the end, assuming you throw out the judging posts, irrelevant comments, bad jokes and scientific jargon, I really hope Mr. Coward finds a concrete answer to his question. Or perhaps, he’s still reading the answers…
  • ONLINE CULTURE He knew the expectations of this environment. That with the bad comments, came the good comments. That consulting this platform he would be able to leverage the collective intelligence of his community. He could have easily gone to any other more authoritative site (and perhaps he did) but the fact that he also was here is important. REAL-TIME Quantity - within a 24-hour period, this post had 1625 responses. The feedback is immediate, while the answers may or may not be 100% relevant, it reinforces the fact that his community is strong and has taken the time/energy to add something to the conversation. AUDIENCE That there is a tech-savvy, digital native, gadget-driven and sedentary audience out there that we are not necessarily looking at. We know obesity is a problem – and identifying high-risk people based on their physiological and/or biological markers can be quantified. But we know sedentarism – SeDS can impact quality of life and take away up to 10-15 life years, even if they are ‘thin’. And in looking at this, I thought – how many studies specificially focus on health outcomes of the that ‘tech-guy’? PC-driven, indoor, not in front people… there needs to be a way to create programming, to educate, and to influence this demographic through non-traditional channels. And if going to a gym was foreign to these people, could health/fitness-related websites and web-streamed videos be overwhelming, too?

Drawing Parallels Between Web 2.0 and Games For Health Drawing Parallels Between Web 2.0 and Games For Health Presentation Transcript

  • Drawing Parallels Between Web 2.0 and Games for Health Biray Alsac, MS Fitness Technologist 5 th Annual Games For Health 2009 Boston, MA www.BeFitWithBiray.com “ Your Guide to Exercising the Web”
  • Web 2.0 is much more user-generated, user-centric and interactive (instead of information-driven and passive)
  • Broadband allows for more data exchange, increasing expectations of immediacy, real-time 24 / 7 Chat
  • Open-source opportunities Promote building, remixing, sharing
  • Wired-to-Wireless lets people be more mobile and less confined to specific spaces
  • Community-Driven, Social Networking made easy (Conversations evolve around who you are, not always on what you say)
  •  
  • “ Sitting in front of the PC is taking its toll... I have begun to get a little heavier around the waist… I don't have the luxury of just getting out of the house/office. And being an introvert, I'm not enamored of the idea of exercising in full view of *shudder* people…"
  • MISUNDERSTOOD IRRELEVANT OVERWHELMING
  • ONLINE CULTURE REAL-TIME AUDIENCE
  • ASSESSMENTS
  • ACTIVITY Add Your Own
  • TRACKING You can also track an activity you currently engage in and compare with other ‘friends’
  • “ GAME”
  • Motivational messages on Profile ‘wall’ when user reaches goals. FEEDBACK (Improve & Stay Motivated) BioFeedback Unlock Exercises Motivational Cues “Good Job” when player reaches certain levels
  • SESSION OVER! Turn off the Wii-Fit (all data stored in console) Sign Off DailyBurn (all data is stored online) Email when you haven’t logged in for a week. iPhone App to pick up where you left off.
  • Observations
    • Web 2.0 is accessible, therefore fitness professionals and health educators/promoters are already participating in this space.
    • Do games for health/exergames limit or enhance a professional’s role (beyond simply facilitating and/or encouraging game play)?
  •  
  • Observations
    • What does web 2.0 tell us about our health games?
    • What do games tell us about web 2.0?
    • How do we effectively marry these two cultures together (and go outside of providing a support community/forums for a game, push for mobile technologies)?
  • Observations
    • Web 2.0/online culture tells health/fitness professionals and educators about a newer audience – ‘overfat-thin’ sedentary person (tech-savvy, digital native).
    • More research needed to try to understand this audiences’ motivations and needs when designing games? (Millennials/Gen Y, Gen Alpha)
  • Observations
    • More interventions that incorporate the culture or analyze the impact of these tools
    • How do we quantify motivation or qualify health behavior change cross-platforms?
  • Drawing Parallels Between Web 2.0 and Games for Health Biray Alsac, MS Fitness Technologist [email_address] Skype / Twitter: befitt 5 th Annual Games For Health 2009 Boston, MA www.BeFitWithBiray.com “ Your Guide to Exercising the Web”