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Sun Nov 23 11:53:12 SAST 2014

Video games may become key to healthy lifestyle

AFP Relaxnews | 29 June, 2013 09:48
Xbox Kinect demonstration. File photo.
Image by: AFP PHOTO/Toru YAMANAKA

The market for 'active' video games is growing rapidly and could be key to improving young people's lifestyles, according to a new report released by the Entertainment Software Association (ESA) and The President's Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition (PCFSN).

"The enthusiasm surrounding active video games is fundamentally transforming how we play and engage in physical activity," said Erik Huey, senior vice president for government affairs at ESA. "Not only is this expanding market segment a promising growth opportunity for our industry, it is motivating families to exercise and lead healthier, more fulfilling lives."

The report, "Active Games Market Analysis," found that 20 percent of all games released in 2011 were active video games, up from 5 percent between 2002 and 2007. It also predicts that this growth and popularity is expected to continue up to 2015. The report defines active games as those that encourage healthy activity among children, engage new audiences in physical education classes, and provide a fun family activity.

Their popularity can be linked to the growing sophistication of games consoles such as the Nintendo Wii and more recently the Xbox 360 Kinect and PS3 Move, each of which recognizes and responds to physical movements and gestures. As a result players can mime activities, such as serving a tennis ball or ducking to avoid a blow from a weapon, rather than simply hitting the x key on a game controller.

"It's widely known that all kids should be active at least 60 minutes a day, but unfortunately only one-in-three kids are getting that recommended amount and studies show they are now consuming over 7.5 hours of screen time every day," says PCFSN Member and NBA All-Star Chris Paul, "And that's why I'm excited about the growing number of video games that are helping kids and families get active."

The results of the study, which was conducted by video game research firm EEDAR, are being used to help draw attention to the Active Play Presidential Active Lifestyle Award (PALA+) Challenge, a program aimed at encouraging US adults and children alike to become more physically active and promoting active video games as a way of helping families up their fitness levels.

For those feeling inspired, serious PlayStation gamers appear united in their praise of Zumba Fitness as the console's most physically demanding game, while Xbox Live forum users suggest Kinect Adventures!. Nintendo's latest console the Wii U offers Your Shape Fitness Evolved, which is designed from the ground up to help players set and achieve health and fitness goals on their own, with other players or online with a virtual community of other fitness gamers.

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