TCS Daily


X(ercise) Box

By Max Borders - July 25, 2006 12:00 AM

The screen went blank, and words appeared. PLAY AGAIN? - Orson Scott Card, from Ender's Game.

When it comes to how to deal with social issues, God created two basic types: regulators and entrepreneurs. The former think about what government should do about fixing some perceived problem. The latter think that if there is a problem, people will find a way to fix it on their own. This second class is often treated like second-class citizens -- entrepreneurs, after all, are just profit-chasers, right? So how can they help solve social problems?

Take the issue of childhood obesity. Familiar voices of outrage are lining up behind command-and-control measures to stop the "epidemic." Beltway crusaders have mobilized against everything from Big Soda in the schools to video games. These two enemies figure well into a rather porcine narrative: capitalist pigs create legions of materialistic pigs for mutual gain: Companies gain wealth. Kids gain weight. Public health gains problems. Or so the story goes.

But while regulators think of ways to control our lives, the market will respond in a manner that will allow us to change our lives ourselves.

Most parents are already worried about their kids' health and most kids themselves are concerned about the way they look and feel. Markets respond to these kinds of values very well. The market has already responded to the needs of parents, kids and profit-oriented businesses. As PC World's Andrew Brandt explains:

"From the beginning, playing video games has mainly been a sedentary experience. You sit on the living room floor, or on the sofa, and use only the muscles in your thumbs (and maybe wrists or ankles, depending on what kind of controller you've got). But that's all changing: The stereotype of the idle, lazy gamer is ever so slowly giving way to the image of a more active, fit, and healthy person."

First out of the gate were games like Dance Dance Revolution, in which kids learned dance moves to bubblegum beats. There is even a site devoted to fans of the game called DDR Freak. So kids everywhere are shaking off the calories and getting themselves ready for their first prom night. (And whether you sell it as 'how to de-spazz your dance moves' rather than 'how to be healthier', the results are the same.)

What if there was a game that tapped into the already existing CGI technology? To make realistic motion in movies, CGI geniuses use software and sensors that allow them to map body parts that move around relative to a fixed point. That means some guy at Dreamworks can walk, run and jump to create realistic body-movement effects for a giant monster or a superhero, onscreen.

As this technology gets cheaper, might we see Playstation kits where kids can attach sensors to their hands and feet in order to slay virtual dragons or karate-chop kung fu warriors in virtual environments? Or what about a footpad that requires your daughter's movements to make her avatar run around in a crystalline cave? Now if people deny that kids will be willing to transfer the beat 'em up games from their thumbs to their fists, then I'll take a bit of that action. (Heck, when I was a kid, I would have given my bike and even my Shogun Warriors for a martial arts simulator faster than you could say kukkiwon.)

But the lesson here, folks, is that it's coming. As technologies, preferences, and price-points converge, we're going to see a whole lot of changes away from the joystick/gamepod model of play. Parents may want to clear some space in the playroom. And regulators may want to start looking for something else to regulate.

Max Borders is TCS Daily managing editor.

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8 Comments

Don't forget Nintendo Track and Field
The original game that required actual effort on your part. Players could race their friends, try to outjump them, etc. You had to purchase a pad similar to the one that my younger siblings used for DDR.

The only problem was that all of the things you could do on the Nintendo pad, you could do more easily (and with better graphics,) in real life. With new technologies like motion capture and virtual reality, this stuff will take off.

I might have to make a return to video games for the first Doom game where I can run around in it myself.

Amazing Prediction of the Past
Your prediction of games that integrate actual actions with motion on screen is already coming true. The next Nintendo console coming out has been recieving adulant ravings over it's control system, which is remote control shaped, and integrates motion sensors and an ability to sense where it's pointing. When you play the sports games you swing your controller as a tennis racket, baseball bat, or golf club. When you play a shooter you use the controller as your gun.

My genration is realy lucky
Iam from India and my childhood I spend in remote village. We play with friends all kind play on big ground, with fresh air,we learn there coopration, love and pure joy. Now Iam staying in big city in Pune. my grand children are though fourtune that they are acquring morden knowledge based education, but unlucky about play.
I myself belive play and education both must prosede side by side both are important but morden civilized life is giving more important to money. and that I thing posionious.giving important to one side is very injurious to new genration and socity.

In That Case...
You don't need a video game to do that. Just go to a playground and have fun.

This is an illogical essay
because it argues that new technologies will allow people to engage in physical play while playing computer games. They can easily do that without computer games.

The real lack of logic to this essay
...is that it's based entirely on an unsound premise: that childhood obesity is due to inactivity and that making kids more active will address the childhood "obesity epidemic."

Oh, but we wouldn't want good science to break through marketing and politics.

BIG Soda in the Schools
In May 2005, I ran for the Eugene, Oregon School Board , against the executive of Pepsi cola Eric Forrest. I was followed, stalked, telephone harassment, hate emails, more than 5 a day on my blog, and ran over several times on my way home. I was almost going to be killed. Just because of the corruption of Corporate Power and some of our elected officials!
The previous superintendent David Piercy and his wife Mayor Kitty Piercy, had played a bigger role in destroying me. KEZI our local TV station paraded me with the help of Chamber of Commerce.
They picked up a Jewish woman Aria Seligmann to run against me, to spilt the progressive community. So, all the Zionists came after me.
I had to file a stalking order to stop Aria and her campaign manager "Green Party chair" William Maxwell.
My two legislators' Sen. Vicki Walker -defended Pepsi executive: By blaming the obesity of the children on their family. Vicki said the "the children come to school obese. It is not the soda in the school to be blamed"- Rep. Bob Ackerman who had forged my family's signature and defrauded us, sold my family's condo, that worth $150, 000.00 by giving us only $41,000.00!-
Then Mr. Ackerman listed the condo by a higher price than he actually sold it!
My commissioner Bobby Green, my councilman Gray Pape, and three other Councilors endorsed Eric Forrest. And the so called, progressive Commissioner Pete Sorenson "The REAL Democrat" & Councilors Bonny Bettman, Andr?a Ortiz and "Mayor for all Eugene", -but not the Arabs or Muslims- Kitty Piercy endorsed the other candidate who was not even democrat or qualified! And of course the previous Mayor Jim Torrey, who's running now for legislature seat,. Jim Torrey headed the kids Sport to hide his agenda of supporting junk food in the schools !
All the elected members of the Eugene school Board endorsed and appointed Eric Forrest to the Board.
The 4J Superintendent George Russell, with our Superintendent Susan Castillo too were very much supportive of Eric Forrest and Soda in the Schools.
Even Stand for the Children & all the Oregon School Association OSSA & Eugene, EESA , did not endorse me.They ended up endorsing & giving Erik Forrest the money..
My life was in peril & still is, just, because of $320.000.00 contribution from the soda executives. This contribution was not even invested in a good healthy food!
the following story from www.registerguard.com :
http://www.registerguard.com/news/2006/07/05/...
www.registerguard.com :
http://www.registerguard.com/news/2006/04/11/...
We must put stop to this kind of abuse and corruption. We need to hold our elected official accountable for their misconduct and greed.
www.nadiasindi.blogspot.com
PS: 25 applicants were interviewed for this position on Jan. 2005. When were asked if we're going to file on May 2005 election. All of us said YES. However, none had filed for this position but "ME". All the rest of the applicants were informed & warned NOT to file against the Pepsi executive Eric Forrest! I was set to be killed!!
Suit Claims Coca-Cola's School Soda Contracts Illegal
http://www.phxnews.com/fullstory.php?article=...
The Organic Consumers Association website:
http://www.organicconsumers.org/school/coke05...

Stop schools from selling drinks that may contain benzene
benzene in soft drinks: a question of standards:

http://www.foodconsumer.org/777/8/benzene_in_soft_drink...n_of_standards.shtml

Scientists at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and elsewhere have found levels of the carcinogen benzene in some soft drinks that are above the U.S. legal limit for drinking water.

The marketing of sugar-laden drinks to children in schools is irresponsible in any case, because they promote obesity and type 2 diabetes. Given the possibility of carcinogenic contents, it is worse. People who care about children, like me, are outraged.

Please enact legislation to stop schools from marketing or selling soft drinks that may be contaminated with benzene.

PhoenixABC15 investigative show on benzene in soft drinks-please forward:
http://www.phoenix360.com/

http://www.phoenix360.com/news/investigators/

Toxic Mix: Blowing the Whistle on Cadbury's "Project Denver"
http://www.schoolpouringrights.com

Ross E. Getman, Esq.
204 Edna Rd.
Syracuse, NY 13205
(315) 492-8306


Google Alert for: soda in the Schools

Woman wants city to replace junk food in vending machines:
http://www.stamfordadvocate.com/news/local/sc...

Stamford Advocate - Stamford,CT,USA
... of sodas and sugary drinks in public schools, Hope Stanger did a double take when she noticed the three new vending machines dispensing candy and soda at Cove ...



Google Alert for: soda in the Schools

'I don't want to sue them. I have no choice':

http://www.ajc.com/business/content/business/...

Atlanta Journal Constitution (subscription) - GA, USA
... including Richard Daynard, who made his name suing tobacco companies, threatened last year to sue beverage companies for selling high-calorie soda in schools. ...


http://www.counsel.nysed.gov/Decisions/volume42/d14804.htm

http://www.schoolpouringrights.com

BusRadio, a new commercial radio network, is hoping to debut on school buses in Massachusetts next fall. If the company succeeds, K-12 students on their way to and from school will be forced to listen to ads, corporate-sponsored contests, and promotions for BusRadio's commercial website. BusRadio boasts that it will take " take targeted student marketing to the next level" and provide companies with a "captive audience" who, unlike listeners to commercial radio, are unable to change the station during ads.

We should not force our children to listen to ads. Children are already the targets of too much advertising. This marketing is a factor in myriad problems facing children today, from childhood obesity to youth violence to precocious and irresponsible sexuality. I urge the School Committee and school administrators to protect the health and well-being of children by saying no to BusRadio.






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