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Gray Gamers meet Rhythm Games


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Often dance and rhythm games are seen as exergames for younger generations. What would it take to reorient such games for so-called \"gray gamers\" -- those gamers 50 years and older?

In this session Jeff Pepper, Founder and CEO of Touchtown, a company specializing in video and computer information networks for senior communities, will discuss how they designed and built a dance-pad based fitness product for the senior market. DanceTown is specifically aimed at older players and senior living communities. Unique to the design is a slick web-based system for recording a player\'s performance, tracking progress over time, and creating online connections among players. A Dancetown player (or their family or medical professional) can see at a glance how their dancing is progressing day by day, week by week and month by month. Players can also see how their scores improve on standardized fitness measurements such as the Senior Fitness Test.

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Gray Gamers meet Rhythm Games

  1. 1. Jeff Pepper President and CEO Touchtown Inc. Games For Health Conference Baltimore, MD May 9, 2008 Gray Gamers Meet Rhythm Games
  2. 2. Jeff Pepper President and CEO Touchtown Inc. Games For Health Conference Baltimore, MD May 9, 2008 Our Excellent Adventure Creating an Exergame Product
  3. 3. ? <ul><ul><li>What were we thinking??? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Why is this a problem worth solving? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>How did we do it? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Where are we now? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Did we learn anything from all this? </li></ul></ul>Our Excellent Adventure Creating an Exergame Product
  4. 4. Why Did We Do This?
  5. 5. <ul><li>Touchtown is a 9-year old technology company with substantial knowledge about seniors and the retirement industry, but no experience building games </li></ul><ul><li>Market: we serve 100,000 retirement home residents throughout North America, providing in-house TV, digital signage, and web portals </li></ul><ul><li>Challenge: could we deliver the benefits of dance pad games to older adults? </li></ul><ul><li>Investment: 18 months, 40+ people, 5 retirement homes, plus CMU Entertainment Technology Center people </li></ul>How This Started
  6. 6. Why Is This Worthwhile?
  7. 7. <ul><ul><li>Reduces risk of obesity 1 </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Reduces risk of heart disease 1 </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Reduces risk of diabetes 1 </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Reduces risk of hypertension 1 </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Reduces risk of congestive heart disease 1 </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Reduces risk of osteoporosis 1, 3 </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Improves cognition 2 </li></ul></ul>Benefits of Exercise <ul><li>Physical activity and health: report of the Surgeon General. US Department of Health and Human Services Atlanta, GA: US Department of Health and Human Services, CDC, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion 1996. </li></ul><ul><li>Green CS, Bavelier D. Action video game modifies visual selective attention. Nature 2003;423(6939):534-7. </li></ul><ul><li>Alekel L, Clasey JL, Fehling PC, et al. Contributions of exercise, body composition, and age to bone mineral density in premenopausal women. Med Sci Sports Exerc 1995;27(11):1477-85. </li></ul>
  8. 8. <ul><li>Improves proprioception and balance 1 </li></ul><ul><li>improves cardiorespiratory endurance 2 </li></ul><ul><li>Increases strength and endurance 2 </li></ul><ul><li>Improves body agility and flexibility 2 </li></ul><ul><li>Improves locomotion and agility 3 </li></ul><ul><li>Helps with weight loss and fat loss 2, 4 </li></ul><ul><li>Improves balance, more stable walking 2, 5 </li></ul>Benefits of Dance <ul><li>Crotts D, Thompson B, Nahom M, Ryan S, Newton RA. Balance abilities of professional dancers on select balance tests. J Orthop Sports Phys Ther 1996;23(1):12-7. </li></ul><ul><li>Hopkins DR, Murrah B, Hoeger WW, Rhodes RC. Effect of low-impact aerobic dance on the functional fitness of elderly women. Gerontologist 1990;30(2):189-92. </li></ul><ul><li>Shigematsu R, Chang M, Yabushita N, et al. Dance-based aerobic exercise may improve indices of falling risk in older women. Age Ageing 2002;31(4):261-6. </li></ul><ul><li>Shimamoto H, Adachi Y, Takahashi M, Tanaka K. Low impact aerobic dance as a useful exercise mode for reducing body mass in mildly obese middle-aged women. Appl Human Sci 1998;17(3):109-14. </li></ul><ul><li>Verghese J. Cognitive and mobility profile of older social dancers. J Am Geriatr Soc 2006;54(8):1241-4. </li></ul>
  9. 9. <ul><li>Helps with weight loss 1 </li></ul><ul><li>Improves attention 2 </li></ul><ul><li>Reduces anxiety 3 </li></ul><ul><li>Enhances thinking skills, creativity and attention 3 </li></ul><ul><li>Improves social skills 3, 4 </li></ul><ul><li>Improves endurance, muscle strength, rhythm 4 </li></ul><ul><li>Encourages socialization 4 </li></ul>Benefits of Dance Pad Games <ul><li>&quot;Dancing video game helps kids avoid weight gain&quot;, Yahoo! News, Yahoo!, 2007-02-01. </li></ul><ul><li>Green CS, Bavelier D. Action video game modifies visual selective attention. Nature 2003;423(6939):534-7. </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li>Hoysniemi J, International survey on the Dance Dance Revolution game, Computers in Entertainment, April-June 2006 </li></ul>
  10. 10. <ul><li>31 sedentary women aged 48 – 70 played DDR for 30 minutes twice a week </li></ul><ul><li>Weight loss: up to 20 lbs, average = 1 lb. The researcher, Dr. Stephanie Studenski, has lost 50 pounds! </li></ul><ul><li>Blood pressure: dropped up to 20 points </li></ul><ul><li>Acceptance: 90% enjoyed it and would recommend it to others </li></ul>New Research Released Last Week Stephanie A. Studenski, MD, MPH, “Interactive Video Dance in Postmenopausal Women: a Pilot Intervention Trial”, American Geriatrics Society Annual Scientific Meeting
  11. 11. Why Is This An “Interesting” Challenge?
  12. 12. Traditional Retirement Home Culture: “ Bingo, Birthdays and Crafts”
  13. 13. “ And you should see our fitness program!” Chair exercises
  14. 14. “ We have an exergaming program... we just got a Wii.” Very popular in retirement communities Lots of fun, moderate exercise BUT little impact on balance, strength, bone density, fall prevention
  15. 15. “ OK, then let’s get a dance pad game…”
  16. 16. But dance pad games aren’t designed for seniors. Sample screen from Konami’s Dance Dance Revolution ®
  17. 17. Our Vision: A Successful Exergame Created Specifically for Older Adults
  18. 18. Video
  19. 19. Design Innovations
  20. 20. Design Innovation: SENIOR FRIENDLY VISUAL DESIGN
  21. 21. Design Innovation: SENIOR FRIENDLY MUSIC 40+ songs of interest to older adults
  22. 22. Design Innovation: INTERGENERATIONAL PLAY <ul><li>Two people can dance together at different levels of difficulty. </li></ul><ul><li>Scoring is normalized, enabling competition. </li></ul>
  23. 23. Design Innovation: ACCESSIBILITY Beginner (Level 1): just rocking left and right Easy (Level 2): add forward movement Pro (Level 6): comparable to higher levels in teen-oriented dance games
  24. 24. Design Innovation: SAFETY How do you avoid injury? Courtesy of
  25. 25. Design Innovation: SAFETY Sturdy 3-sided railings
  26. 26. Design Innovation: TRACK MEDICAL OUTCOMES Each player has their own account. Enter assessment data. Access history and trends on the web!
  27. 27. Design Innovation: ONLINE PERFORMANCE TRACKING
  28. 28. Design Innovation: ONLINE COMMUNITY
  29. 29. Demo
  30. 30. Current Research
  31. 31. <ul><li>Humana Health Services Research Center (University of Miami): </li></ul><ul><li>Assess feasibility of using Dancetown in the healthy senior population. </li></ul><ul><li>Single group, pre-post clinical trial conducted at three retirement homes. </li></ul><ul><li>Stephanie Studenski, Professor, Department of Medicine and Staff Physician, VA Pittsburgh: </li></ul><ul><li>Follow-on phases of study of dance pad benefits for postmenopausal women. </li></ul>
  32. 32. Project Status
  33. 33. <ul><li>Technology: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Commercial version is complete, in use at about 20 locations throughout North America </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Mass market version under development, for summer release </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Distribution: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Sold in US by Exergame Fitness, in Canada by Wheels of Fitness </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Also available at </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Marketing to 44,000 retirement homes starting in June </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Partnering with Humana’s Innovation Center, looking at high volume rollout later this year </li></ul></ul>
  34. 34. Did We Learn Anything?
  35. 35. <ul><li>Our initial vision of game development: “build a game” </li></ul><ul><li>Initial cool idea </li></ul><ul><li>Collect user requirements </li></ul><ul><li>Design </li></ul><ul><li>Build </li></ul><ul><li>Test </li></ul><ul><li>Deliver </li></ul><ul><li>Repeat </li></ul>The Game
  36. 36. <ul><li>Our revised vision of game development: “create a sustainable business”: </li></ul>Distribution Packaging Hardware Integration Patent and Trademark Issues Pricing Chrome Promotion Cultural Integration The Game
  37. 37. Thank You! [email_address]