Tuesday, September 7, 2010

New rating system to properly assess exercise game quality

It looks like the explosion of casual exercise games are about to get regulated, with the Exergame Network coming up with a rating system to gauge the quality of these games for providing fitness.

The Exergaming Experience Rating System (EERS), aside from having a terrible name, is a really good idea. Exercise games, made popular by titles such as Nintendo's Wii Fit, all promise a healthy workout, but anyone who has played a variety of these will know the quality between them varies greatly. Thus far, the potential for fitness games to be taken seriously as lifestyle products is hampered by those titles that have little genuine fitness benefit.

With Microsof'ts Kinect, and to a lesser extent, Sony's PlayStation Move on the way, the "exergaming" genre will open up even further for developers and publishers, so a rating systems could provide a valuable consumer guideline service.

The EERS process will score games on both exercise and gameplay (including the physical interface between the two), but also on the interaction of seven other attributes, including sustainability and intervention capacity.

By way of example six highlights in this fledgling genre have been rated: Wii Fit (57%), Dance Dance Revolution (63%), Eyetoy Kinetic (60%), Wii Sports (47%), EA Sports Active (51%) and Rock Band (No score assigned).

40 additional games will be peer-reviewed and rated over the next 12 months.

In a release, MedPlay Technologies, Dr Ernie Medina, said "With so many different games available on the market, a rating system for exergames like the EERS by The Exergame Network, is a welcome tool for healthcare practitioners trying to help their patients make the most appropriate choices for their families."

The Exergame Network (or TEN for short) is a non-affiliated, non-profit Games for Health advocacy. It represents a collaboration of health and fitness practitioners, exergame developers, researchers and wellness entrepreneurs.

TEN maintains a blog for anyone interested in reading more.

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