‘Exergames’ not perfect, but can lead to more exercise

EAST LANSING, Mich. — Active video games, also known as “exergames,” are not the perfect solution to the nation’s sedentary ways, but they can play a role in getting some people to be more active.

Michigan State University’s Wei Peng reviewed published research of studies of these games and says that most of the AVGs provide only “light-to-moderate” intensity physical activity.

And that, she says, is not nearly as good as what she calls “real-life exercise.”

“For those not engaging in real-life exercise, this may be a good step toward this,” said Peng, an assistant professor of telecommunication, information studies and media. “Eventually the goal is to help them get somewhat active and maybe move to real-life exercise.”

Of the 41 AVG studies the researchers looked at, only three of them proved to be an effective tool in increasing physical activity.

“Some people are very enthusiastic about exergames,” Peng said. “They think this will be the perfect solution to solve the problem of sedentary behavior. But it’s not that easy.” Continue reading

White House Academic Consortium on Games for Impact Launched

On July 26, Carrie Heeter, Michigan State University Professor of Telecommunication, Information Studies, and Media, participated in the inaugural meeting of the Academic Consortium on Games for Impact at White House Office of Science and Technology Policy in Washington, DC. The event was organized by Dr. Constance Steinkuehler Squire, Senior Policy Analyst with the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.

Twenty academic members from 19 universities were invited to attend the initial meeting including Arizona State University, Carnegie Mellon, Dartmouth, Florida State University, Georgia Tech, , Harvard, Michigan State University, MIT, Indiana University , Northeastern University, Northwestern, NYU, Parson’s New School for Design, Vanderbilt, UC Santa Barbara, University of Wisconsin, University of Washington, and Yale.

In addition to consortium members, the event was attended by 43 consortium partners from government and industry, including the National Science Foundation, National Institutes of Health, Department of Education, Office of Health and Human Services, DARPA, NASA’s Federal Games Guild, Gates Foundation, MacArthur Foundation, Pearson Foundation, Kauffman Foundation, California Endowment, Joan Ganz Cooney Center, Google, Microsoft Research, Microsoft Educational Games, Sony Corporation, Games for Change, Games for Health, Epic Games, Valve, Digital Promise, eLine Media, Global Game Jam, Learning Games Network, BrainPop, Wilson Center, HFG Enterprises, Gamedesk, and the Entertainment Software Association.

“It was inspiring to be present with such a diverse group of minds and interests, united in the desire to advance gaming and games research to make a difference in the world,” Heeter said. Constance’s introduction ended with a slide of Obama pointing at the group, and the remark “remember, Obama needs you…”

“I have a new appreciation for the big picture, of how our collective work fits in an historic, national, and international movement. The choices I make in teaching, design, and research related to impact games will be informed by that perspective. And I look forward to helping to grow and nurture the consortium,” Heeter concluded.

The inaugural meeting of the Academic Consortium on Games for Impact in the Indian Treaty Room of the Eisenhower Executive Office Building. (Professor Heeter is on the far right.) Photo courtesy of Susan Gold, Global Game Jam.

Welcome! Seriously! Playfully!

The Media and Information department at Michigan State University offers an undergraduate specialization in game design and development, an MA degree with concentration in HCI and emphasis on games and meaningful play, a PhD in Media and Information Studies, and a 3 course graduate certificate in serious games that can be completed on campus or fully online. November 15 is the deadline to apply for Spring 2016 admission.

The Games and Meaningful Play group of faculty and students and the GEL Lab (Games for Entertainment and Learning) bring together diverse experts who design and study meaningful play and serious games.   Our motto is, CHANGE THE WORLD WITH US.  If you’re interested, we’d love to have you join us.