HCrea SYYtinSDg an TREX EAERG MGAMAE WMith Ethe S HYYSDTREAMGAME
by Bryan Bergeron
EXERGAMES, typified by Dance Dance Revolution and the more recent
Wii Sports compilation for the Nintendo Wii, encourage whole body movement
over mere thumb flexing. Whether players intend to shave a few extra
pounds or to simply interact with a more engaging interface, exergames rely
on non-traditional input devices and technologies for gameplay.
Given the popularity of
exergames and the success
of the Wii interface, when I
was asked to review the Hydra Game
System, I couldn’t resist exploring the
feasibility of developing an exergame.
This article describes the development of a simple exergame using the
latest addition to the Parallax line
of microcontrollers and a popular
FIGURE 1. Wobble board, side
(left) and top (right) views.
The design of an exergame, like
that of other serious games, starts with
the creation of a game design document that addresses a relevant subset of
the issues outlined in Table 1. For example, every exergame should incorporate
fun elements, such as some
form of escalating challenge,
but not all exergames require
music. Of key importance in an
exergame design document is
identifying the skill set that
should be developed in players.
This skill set drives the visual,
physical, and logical components of the game design.
A useful construct in designing
most exergames is mapping skills to
gameplay and a reward system or
scoring. For example, an exergame
could replicate the rehabilitation
regimen required by a player with an
ankle injury. If rehabilitation involves
EXERGAME DESIGN ELEMENTS
Screens & Menus
Sounds & Music Environment
predominantly lateral or side-to-side
ankle exercises, then a game that
incorporates left and right ankle flexion in gameplay may be appropriate.
Moreover, just as an elastic band or
other tool can be used to achieve a
variety of rehabilitation goals, a single
exergame can often be used to
enhance a variety of skills. A game that
emphasizes ankle movement could be
used to improve the player’s balance
and body awareness, for example.
The exergame considered here is
designed to encourage use of a
common wobble board. As shown in
Figure 1, a wobble board is simply a
TABLE 1. Basic exergame design
elements. Every element may not be
applicable to a given game.