Exergaming as an Alternative for Students Unmotivated to Participate in Regular Physical Education Classes

Exergaming as an Alternative for Students Unmotivated to Participate in Regular Physical Education Classes

Mateus David Finco (PPGIE/Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul (UFRGS), Porto Alegre, Brazil), Eliseo Reategui (PPGIE/Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul (UFRGS), Porto Alegre, Brazil), Milton Antonio Zaro (PPGIE/Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul (UFRGS), Porto Alegre, Brazil), Dwayne D. Sheehan (Mount Royal University, Calgary, Canada) and Larry Katz (University of Calgary, Calgary, Canada)
Copyright: © 2015 |Pages: 10
DOI: 10.4018/IJGBL.2015070101


With the novelty of exergames, an alternative form of entertainment and exercise emerged especially for physical education (PE). While video games have been historically associated to problems such as obesity, social introversion and aggressive behavior, exergames brought a new perspective in which these cultural artifacts could contribute to people's education concerning the practice of physical activity. This article presents a study about the setting up of an exergame lab focusing on kids and preadolescents who usually show signs of dissatisfaction with PE. The research methodology followed a qualitative observation approach, involving twenty-four students of both genders for three months. Results demonstrated that students who were normally unmotivated to participate in PE classes showed a positive attitude regarding the exergame practices and demonstrated their willingness to collaborate with peers. The study also showed that exergaming provides situations in which students can increase the regularity of their practice of physical exercises.
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Gaming is a widespread activity in our culture, with millions of people playing video games worldwide. Active games, or exergames, have been introduced as a way to enable players to use body movement to control the games. As a result, exergames started to be seen as a tool that could contribute to a less sedentary lifestyle with positive effects concerning health-related behavior (Baranowski, 2008). But although there is mixed evidence regarding the capability of such games to impact children's fitness according to public health recommendations, it has been suggested that playing active games can contribute to the practice of light to moderate physical activity (Peng, Jih, & Crouse, 2006). Exergaming may also foster a stronger bond among players, reducing social isolation and loneliness (Mueller, Agamanolis, & Picard, 2003). A study about the motivation of children to play a dance exergame showed the preference of kids for the multiplayer and group game play over the solitary practice (Chin et al., 2008).

In Physical Education (PE) Classes, it has also been argued that exergaming engaged participants in longer periods of physical activity than did the standard PE practice (Fogel, Miltenberger, Graves, & Koehler, 2010). It is therefore important to better understand the potential of using such games in formal educational contexts, particularly when exergaming starts affecting school curriculum. In this article we describe a particular experience in the setting up of an exergame lab to complement PE classes for students unmotivated to participate in regular practices. The use of exergames in the lab has been analyzed from a qualitative perspective, focusing on the practice of physical activity and development of social skills.

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