By Barry Joseph, Dad, and his 6 year old son Akiva
My now-six year old son had a Zamzee during the first half of this year, which he used nearly every day. Not wanting to undermine his nominal but existing internal motivation towards physical activity, we decided not to provide motivation to use it – no money from us to put on it, no reminders to use it, etc. If he wanted to use it, it was all up to him. And the only external motivation would come from the Zamzee Web site and the game mechanics within.
He took full responsibilities for his Zamzee – from the money that went on it to remembering to take it out of his pants before putting away his laundry. I interviewed him about it while we were driving back home from a long day spent at a summer Amusement Park. He was playing the game Temple Run on his iPod.
Me (Barry): The folks from Zamzee asked us to tell them what it has been like for you and for our family to be using Zamzee.
Barry: Last December I told you about Zamzee for the first time. Do you remember what it was like when I first told you about it?
Barry: Do you remember what it was like when you first started using it?
Akiva: A little. The earliest memory I have was when I got the Lego cover for the Zamzee. At first I didn’t see that it was not a digital case. When it came in the mail and I put it on I liked that either way you slide the Zamzee part it still looks like some Legos.
Barry: So what do you think was interesting to you about the Zamzee?
Akiva: Well, it let me get stuff. Like the Lego cover, that makes it look good. The… the… What did you say again?
Barry: You said you liked having a Zamzee because it helped you get stuff. What sort of stuff?
Akiva: Like, so, like costumes that are digital, things you can hold that are digital, pets that are digital.
Barry: As you know, the way the Zamzee works, you put money on a Zamzee then do activities to earn that money. Mommy and I did not put any money on it, but you chose to put your own money on it, from your allowance.
Akiva: Yeah. Right. Great.
Barry: You could have spent your money anywhere. Why did you choose to put it on a Zamzee that made you have to do things first before you could spend it?
Akiva: There’s, like, something new each time I go on.
Barry: What did you do with a Zamzee?
Akiva: I was really active with it. Running. Jumping. Climbing stairs. Like that, yeah.
Barry: Before we got you the Zamzee, you used to often say, “I don’t want to walk. I am too tired.”
Akiva: Yeah, yeah. I still do say that sometimes! (laughing)
Barry: You might say you are tired but you don’t say you don’t want to walk. You also started being more active in athletics. You started softball, and swimming. Do you think having a Zamzee made you want to be more active in sports?
Akiva: Not really.
Barry: Do you think it had any impact on the way you thought about your body and its energy level.
Akiva: Yeah. Just moving. Moving a lot.
Barry: First you lost one Zamzee. Then in June you lost the second one and you said you were done. I asked you what you had learned having one and you said: “I learned that my body is like a Zamzee. It collects points, energy points, that can be used later.” How does your body do that?
Akiva: Well, it moves a lot. It is like giving your body points. When you give your body points, it moves more.
Barry: You haven’t said anything about Zamzee all summer, until this week, when you asked me for a new one. What do you think you will do with a new one?
Akiva: Take it out right away. And plug it in.
Barry: Will you do anything different this time with your Zamzee?
Akiva: Save up my allowance so I can put more money in. And save up the money I have in Zamzee. I want a thousand.
Barry: If there was anything you could say to the people behind Zamzee, what would it be?
Akiva: I like Zamzee.
Editor’s note: Thanks Akiva and Barry for telling us what you think about Zamzee! Curious to know what other kids like about Zamzee? Read Zamzee user testimonials.