Tag Archive | Gamification

Getting Kids that Love Videogames to Love Exercise


By Andrew Kardon from Mommy’s Busy… Go Ask Daddy

My kids love videogames. They will sit and stare at a screen for hours upon hours. Thanks to the Nintendo Wii and Xbox 360 Kinect, at least some of this game play is active. You should see the sweat I work up playing Boxing on the Wii! But I struggle to get my kids engaged in other types of physical activity, especially activity outside the house.

Recently I’ve started to incorporate video game themes into outside playtime. I’ve noticed that the more I do it, the longer my kids stay engaged in outdoor physical activity.

Take baseball for example. They love playing Mario Sluggers on the Wii. (Okay, fine. I love it too!) When I suggest we practice baseball on the driveway, Jason usually responds with, “I know how to play baseball. I play Mario Sluggers and I’m really good at it!”

Not exactly the same thing, Sport. But Jason will be a bit more amenable to playing outside if we can somehow relate it to Mario. Granted, it results in some rather… odd parts of the game.

Ryan likes to pitch a “special,” which means he pretends to throw a fireball at Jason. In reality, a “special” is a large kickball instead of a baseball. It’s not exactly America’s traditional pastime, but if it keeps them engaged and outside, I don’t care what type of balls they throw.

We use the Mario approach on neighborhood walks, too. Inevitably there is some point in the walk where Ryan’s legs will start to hurt. He’ll ask, “Are we done yet?” That’s when I pull out the video game card. Continue reading

Getting Your Kids Active: How My Son Became a Football Fanatic

By Whitney from RookieMoms.com

Today my son Julian is a football fanatic, memorizing player statistics, playing catch with his dad in the backyard, and dreaming of becoming the fastest sprinter in his school. But it wasn’t always this way. Last year Julian didn’t like sports, let alone want to play them himself, or care about catching such things as the touchdown pass. Last summer Heather’s son Holden went to sports camp, and I told Julian that there are camps where you do eight sports each day, knowing pretty well he’d hate that idea. He looked at me with amazement and disgust.

At that time, he spent his recesses sitting on the bench with his female best friend discussing the detailed characteristics of their Webkinz, a set of plush animals with online lives. They enjoyed this fun virtual world they were imagining together, and I had no problem with it. He attended science camp all summer and avoided kick ball games by hanging out with the counselors, making friendship bracelets.

I’m not really a sports person myself, but I worried that he was missing out on important social skills like the ability to join group games or play catch. I didn’t have to worry for long. Last fall, everything changed. Continue reading

How to Motivate Kids to Start Exercising – and Stick With It

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Photo courtesy of L. Marie’s Flickr (http://ow.ly/do1YC)

Starting something new – like regular physical activity – is hard. In fact, the only thing harder than starting something new may be sticking with it. When it comes to getting kids and teenagers moving more, the challenge isn’t getting them off the couch just once; the real challenge is making physical activity a part of their daily lives.

It’s critically important that we find creative new ways to get kids moving more. In July, leading British medical journal “The Lancet” published research asserting that physical inactivity causes 6-10% of deaths from major NCDs (non-communicable diseases), such as type II diabetes, heart disease, and breast and colon cancers. The research linked exercise to mental wellbeing, too. Exercise fosters everything from improved sleep patterns and reduced stress, to stronger relationships, social connectedness and a sense of purpose and value. [1]

Opportunities for kids to engage in regular physical activity are often centered around youth sports. But joining a youth sports team can be a big, scary leap for kids who may be more accustomed to playing video and computer games than moving the ball down the field. Just think: kids can play videogames in the comfort and security of home, without an audience of peers watching. Game engineers design for player psychology, with just the right combination of challenges and motivators to ensure a player feels competent and successful when playing. Players advance at their own speed. Knowledge gained through failure – say, using a huge sling shot to catapult an angry bird into a green pig in a pyramid but missing the mark only just slightly – can be directly applied towards a second chance, where success is that much more likely. So the question is: what if we could use the tricks of game design to help kids who aren’t sporty experience physical activity in fun way that’s more similar to gaming, and thence less intimidating?

The good news is, we can. Borrowing gaming principles to make physical activity appealing to kids who aren’t inclined to be physically active is exactly how Zamzee was born. Our research partners at HopeLab took a close look at academic research on how to motivate regular exercise (by Edward Deci and Richard Ryan, for example) and popular writing on motivation in the business world (by Daniel Pink). Then they made up a nifty acronym, CAMPR, so the rest of us can understand and remember what these researchers are talking about. Here’s a quick explanation: Continue reading

Using Technology to Modernize Physical Education (P.E.)

By Cindy Sisson Hensley, Co-Founder of ConnectTIVTY[1]

Using Zamzee to connect P.E. with technology and rewards

At the forefront of physical education today are discussions of swapping old gym standards like dodgeball and kickball for games that incorporate technology. Using technology in P.E. may seem counterintuitive to old-timers, but today’s youth engage more with physical games that utilize technology. And if the objective of P.E. is to help students develop a lifelong affinity for physical activity, than using innovative, motion-centric technology is one strong tool in P.E. teacher’s toolboxes that shouldn’t be overlooked.

“Typically, there is so much focus [in P.E.] on star athletes and the sports they play,” said Artie Kamiya, National P.E. Institute co-chair. “A new chapter in the battle against childhood obesity has begun by helping P.E. teachers activate all of their students with a wider variety of games, sports and exercises that can be continued through life.”

The national childhood obesity epidemic has forced experts to rethink how P.E. has been taught in the past. Today’s kids think sports are boring – 84 percent say they sometimes wish they had more fun when playing youth sports. Not surprisingly, 42 percent say they’d rather play video games than sports, and when asked why, 74 percent said video gaming is more fun.[2] Continue reading

What is Gamification?

“Gamification” is getting lots of attention as a tool for engaging people in social causes, job training, even health – but what is it? And does it really work?

A simple definition of “gamification” is applying game features to experiences outside of games. Earning points, leveling up, building and discovery, unlocking special features – all the things that make Angry Birds, Minecraft and Super Mario Brothers so engaging are being used to focus people’s time and attention on real-world issues, not just entertainment. In fact, an entire industry of designers and developers is emerging to create games and “gamified” systems. The team at Bunchball has put together a Gamification 101 guide that provides a helpful overview for anyone who’s new to the topic, and the folks at Gamification Co have compiled some great information on the growing field.

But can gamification help us improve our own health and wellness? The short answer is yes. In fact, there’s a growing body of research that shows the potential for games and gamification to improve lives in a variety of ways. Game designer Jane McGonigal, who delivered a compelling TED Talk on how games make us better, has compiled a helpful list of scientific references. Our research partners at HopeLab have also published scientific data on how games can motivate healthy behavior in young people. Continue reading

Zamzee wins at the 2012 GSummit (Gamification Awards)!


Lance Henderson, our CEO, posing with our shiny GSummit trophy!

Zamzee was awarded the 2012 Gamification Summit award for the Best Use of Gamification in Health and Wellness!

We’re pretty excited about this! As a start-up still in beta mode, it’s great to see the gamification industry recognizing us as an industry leader for our work using play to get kids and families healthy.

In addition to the GSummit Award, Zamzee has also been:

  • Recognized by President Obama as a model social enterprise at the launch of the White House Office of Social Innovation and Civic Participation;
  • Named a Health Innovator by LAUNCH, a global initiative founded by NASA, USAID, the U.S. Department of State and Nike to identify and support the innovative work poised to contribute to a sustainable future and accelerate solutions to meet urgent challenges facing our society;
  • Nominated for the “Most Innovative Game” award by the 2012 Games for Change Festival;
  • Recognized by the San Mateo County Economic Development Association with the Aspiring Innovator Award.

It’s nice to get a little love!