We hope the games can increase physical activity, add a dosage of everyday fun and embed NEAT in the modern lifestyle, Pavlidis said. We expect an almost addictive behavior resulting from this game, much like the habit of playing solitaire during breaks is an everyday ritual for many people. Because of the way we live today, people are sitting all the time, so moving more is always a good thing.
The allure of computer gaming and competition with other users encourages players to make small lifestyle changes that can add up to big health benefits, Pavlidis said.
A computer science student who was one of the first to try out the devices lost 40 pounds in five months. The games also have been a hit with early test groups and received rave reviews from players at an April academic gathering of computer scientists.
Along with the straightforward racing game, Pavlidis also recently rolled out his version of Sodoku, a logic-based numbers puzzle that has become wildly popular. In this adaptation of Sodoku, the points players earn through physical activity can be used to fill in another square on the grid, providing clues to solving the rest of the puzzle. More games designed to appeal to a variety of age groups are in the works.
Levines lab at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., is gauging the games effectiveness in a large trial experiment that began in June. Financed by an endowed fund and a National Science Foundation grant, Pavlidis hopes the game will be available to the public before the end of 2008.
|Contact: Ann Holdsworth|
University of Houston