So unless you have been living under a pile of fast food wrappers over the past 5-6 years, you will know that we have been fighting a bit of an “obesity” crisis with young people. Not only that, but the performance of our elite sports men and women have been slowly declining (exceptions to London 2012 and Mo Farah). Now before you all dive behind the sofa because Mete-Critic is about to preach about how “exercise is good for you”, bear with me.
The government is cutting the legs out from underneath sport and physical education in this country. That is a fact. We are on a downward spiral where a topic close to my heart and my profession is circling the drain. I genuinely believe we may not be able to return (Yes I am that guy who wears shorts all year round- guessed the profession yet?) from our current plight and could see us replicate the universe in Disney’s Wall E. The appreciation of the “Performing Arts” in this country is in to extra-time and it’s not looking good.
So could video games and its pixilated art be the saviour of the physical arts?
Video games are (for the majority of the time) stereotyped to being a “lazy” leisure activity. The portrayal of gamers with headsets surrounded by fizzy drinks, crisps and take away packaging dating back three weeks is one that is prevalent for those who aren’t directly involved with gaming.
But what if the video games industry ends up filling the void left behind by physical activity?
When the Nintendo Wii first burst onto the scene, the accessibility for both old and young was one of its key selling points. Gamers and non-gamers alike could pick up a controller and do their best to make themselves look slightly silly whilst divulging in activities such as boxing and tennis. Developing on from this, the Wii fit board and packages provided a slight boom linking health, fitness and physical activity with the video games industry.
Now I’m not expecting the Wii or the NX to channel all of it’s marketing into being the fitness console, but with the current wave of interest in fitness peripherals with the Fit Bit and items such alike then why wouldn’t the billion dollar gaming industry jump on the bandwagon?
In the classroom (now you have the profession) I can think of no better use than that of VR in helping to “spice up” the delivery of Sport and PE. Performance Analysis and Human Anatomy would be two of the easiest areas of impact for a VR device. Imagine being able to “challenge” famous sports stars or dive inside the blood stream and surround yourself in the inner workings of the heart? What about being able to place yourself on half court at Wimbledon to analyse Novak Djokovic’s serve? Come on now even the most avid of PE haters could find that interesting.
Taking the gaining of knowledge aside, the VR system could be used to replicate what it’s like to run the London Marathon whilst on the treadmill or dancing on stage with Beyonce. Ok I haven’t worked it out in finite detail but the basic premise would be pick your scenario, dive in and here is your involvement with exercise; kind of like the Star Trek holodeck.
How about the concept of developing games like Wii Sports and Mario & Sonic Olympics and Let’s Dance to a deeper level of involvement? Actually asking gamers to physically replicate movements for an in-game “impression” could be a fantastic way of bringing the next version of Track & Field games for the current consoles.
On the flip-side could E-Sports actually be the answer; but not in the way I personally would hope. With our diminishing returns in sports such as football and rugby, should we be pumping “grassroots” money into the E-Sports industry? Granted it doesn’t provide the physical and health benefits playing for your local Sunday league football team may offer but it’s ability to develop other skills could be quantifiable. Problem solving, teamwork, communication to name but a few are prevalent in any E-Sport related video game.
I think it’s time for the video games industry to answer the call of Sport and Physical Education in the UK where so clearly the government has abandoned it.
Agree? Disagree? Let me know @MeteCritic on twitter…
Keep it on the OOL!