Playground 'videogames' bring summer fun to the Playstation generation
As the long summer break approaches, parents and carers will be wondering what they can do to get kids away from the TV and games consoles and outdoors into the fresh air. The answer may lie in the new generation of outdoor playground games that blend physical activity with technology which are springing up all over theUK in Summer 2007.
Exergames such as the Intelligent Play (i.play) system have been developed as a method of tackling the growing problem of child obesity by making exercise enjoyable for children whose idea of fun has more to do with videogames than sport. Taking the kind of playability that has earned the Nintendo Wii and DanceDance Revolution a reputation as fat burners outside into parks and playgrounds, i.play is the answer to hassled parents' prayers, being genuinely healthy fun.
The first i.play exergame system is being officially opened in Barrow Park, Cumbria, on 20 July, just in time for the beginning of the school holidays Further units will be installed in parks and playgrounds across Wales and the South East over the summer.
The i.play works by issuing the player with a sequence of instructions or tasks which must then be completed by physical activities. These tasks, issued via an embedded LED screen, involve single or multiple players running, jumping and twisting to interact with special 'activity switches' situated on the i.play system. The result is a whole body, high energy and, most importantly, fun work-out for all involved. A multiplayer game for up to six participants and online league tables to compare scores with other players across the country are also included.
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i.play has been developed in collaboration by playground equipment manufacturer, Playdale, and Progressive Sports Technologies, a sports and fitness specialist spun out from LoughboroughUniversity.
Playdale spokesperson Barry Leahey comments: "To date a lot of the attention on child obesity has focused on 'making' children do sixty minutes of exercise a day, rather than on how we can make that hour of physical exertion fun. Despite our best intentions, this means we've taken an 'eat your greens' approach to encouraging exercise, which is rarely the best way to win an argument. Developments such as i.play, however, can persuade children that exercise is something to be enjoyed rather than endured."
"We are delighted to be able to bring this new activity into parks and playgrounds this summer. Not only will it help the Playstation generation to associate physical effort with positive feelings, it might also save parents and carers from the dreaded chorus of 'I'm bored' during the long break. And we're all agreed that this can only be a good thing."