BCM215 Contextual Essay

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Using movement and non-movement-based video games to train professional athletes

I created my digital artefact to explore the possibility of using video games as a form of training in the professional environment. Sport-related video games, such as Madden NFL, NBS and MVP Basketball – to name a few – are increasingly popular in the community. Virtual Reality (VR) has additionally become more accessible, and with proper research conducted by STRIVR, we can determine the future possibility of using gaming as a form of professional training. I additionally wanted to break the couch-potato stereotype that video games are tied to, especially now that more research is being made on this topic.

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My digital artefact is presented as two short podcasts. The first one explores movement-based video games focusing on Virtual Reality as a training tool for professional athletes. The second podcast notes the skills that can be obtained through non-movement based sport-related video games and how these skills can be transferred into the real-life games.

My structuralist approach allows me to look at the material elements such as the gameplay which in turn allows me the look into how gameplay can have an impact on game skill and therefore skill in the real-life environment.

I implemented an analytical framework into my digital artefact, focusing on 3 critical frames:

Spatiality

As I focused on both non-movement based and movement-based video games in my podcasts, I explored multiple platforms that players can use to access these games e.g. PlayStation, Xbox and Virtual Reality modes. However, these sport-based games (depending on when released and who released them) can be accessed on multiple platforms from PC’s to mobile devices.

Modality

Sport-related video games are their own genre in the Esports gaming list. The games that I have explored such as Madden are team-based games – just like their real-life inspirations. Therefore, these games can be used in either single-player or multiplayer modes. Either way; it is the individuals themselves that are obtaining the skills that come with playing video games. Multiplayer mode may be more useful in the fact that you are opposing a real-life gamer rather than a computer.

Technical Strata – Development Context

I delve quite deep into how new technology is being implemented into athletes professional training, including new media such as virtual reality which has only been developed quite recently. I also note how realism in our gaming (which has improved over time with new technology) can lead to a better understanding of the game when played professionally in the real athletic environment.

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I obtained my research through both academic journals and blog posts as more research is now coming to light regarding video games and their positive benefits. I wanted to make sure that these journals were relevant in breaking the couch potato stereotype by notice the scientifically proven benefits behind playing these games e.g. benefits in reaction time, memory and coordination etc. I also researched companies that were invested in using gaming equipment e.g. virtual reality to prep professional athletes for competition. An example of this is STRIVR – which I mention in podcast 1.

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Breaking the couch potato stereotype

My podcasts are the equivalent of 1024 words. I chose to use an audio format (short podcast) because I wanted to explore a different media format that I had never used before. This was also an idea based on my feedback from my peers in the pitch and the beta as originally I was going to create two blog posts. I also believe that podcasts are easier to process at times and can be used while multitasking. These podcasts are suitable for individuals who are interested in the benefits of video games on their athletic capacities. Professional or not – individuals play certain sports because that is what they enjoy to do, so incorporating another ‘hobby’ that they enjoy into their training schedules will not only add more job but allow the individuals to reap the benefits e.g. strengthening their skill set.

Overall, I believe that my project was successful in concluding that video games do have a significant benefit in training for sport, and have already been implemented to some degree in the professional world already. As much as I wanted to include more information and more example, I had a word count limitation and therefore did not delve as deep as I would have liked.

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Virtual Reality as a new form of training

You can access my two podcasts by clicking here

BETA COMMENTS

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Blog Post 1: Anh Thi

Link: https://mokxii.wordpress.com/2019/09/20/exploring-communicating-affect-of-lovers-in-a-dangerous-spacetime/

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I contributed to this post by giving constructive feedback as well as an additional source that they could possibly use for their research. I actively engaged by watching her video, reading about her analytical framework and providing further research. My suggestion to consider reviews as a form of secondary research will hopefully offer her the change to obtain different perspectives by users who play the game. I also offered her the possibility of focusing more on the relevant fractions of the analytical framework in order to properly answer her thesis question – which I hope is a useful suggestion. I could have provided more feedback if I was an active gamer of ‘Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime’, however, I had never heard of the game till now. At least I learnt something new, which is what I got out of this experience!

Blog Post 2: Isaac

Link: https://fuze.design/blog/sound-or-emotion-an-update/

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Isaac has a very interesting topic involving the research of sounds in gaming, which I found very interesting! I contributed by providing a couple of sources that I thought would be helpful to understand the different kinds of sounds that can be edited to make gaming more realistic (or unrealistic/futuristic). I noted his change of approaches and made sure to check that he isn’t giving himself too heavy of a load in terms of research and application. However, I did note that adding a post-structuralist approach may even make it easier for him in terms of research and information that can back up his previous research. These approaches engage with our lecture material. I suggested for him to explore different types of sounds and techniques such as “Kinetic Gestural Interaction” by providing two links which delve into this. I learnt from Isaac that podcasts and other audio media types are a good way to approach our topics, and I may consider this for my own digital artefact.

Blog Post 3: Isabella

Link: https://isabellaambrosii.wordpress.com/2019/09/21/women-in-video-games-beta-bcm215/

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With Isabella, I took a different approach to provide feedback as I had less information on the topic itself and more on her engagement that she has tried to obtain for her digital artefact. I engaged with her post by acknowledging her struggle to find engagement, and offered her the option to change the media format that she is using to reach a wider audience. Additionally, I provided a couple of Youtube channels that explore a similar topic that she intends to research. I wanted to provide her videos rather than blog posts or articles to provide different media formats that could be used – and hopefully, she gains inspiration from this. I hope my suggestions were useful, however, I should have provided feedback that is relevant to our lecture materials – as she did not mention any of it. I learnt a lot from Isabella by hearing her experience on reaching out for engagement, which I will be able to take into consideration when I do this for my own digital artefact.

Further self-reflection:

What did I learn? What did I get out of the experience? How did I improve over the previous round of comments?

Through my comments, I have been able to identify some possible changes that I could make in my own digital artefact e.g. changing my media format and using a different research approach. Each blog was unique and took a different twist on a digital artefact, and it was interesting to see how our lecture material and readings were being applied. This experience has allowed me to think more deeply about my own digital artefact and I like how it has allowed me to think differently in terms of research methods and the possible structural or even analytical approaches that I could take. I believe I improved over the previous round of comments by being able to identify when lecture materials were being used, and as a result, I could more easily refer my own research materials to the student.

 

The Use of Video Games to Train Professional Athletes

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In my beta video, I reiterated the possibility of using video games as a form of training for professional athletes. Like my pitch, I aim to research the positive benefits of using moment-based and non-movement based video games to determine if this is true. I want to explore if users gain certain mental and physical skills that are beneficial for their training.

My blogs will be split into two sections:

  1. Movement-based video games – which can include virtual reality and motion-sensory games

and

  1. Non-movement based video games – such as NBA, Madden and MVP Basketball to name a few popular ones.

I also intend to focus on two influential factors of sport-based video games:

  1. Spatiality

and

  1. Modality

which I discuss briefly in my Beta.

In my first blog, I explained that movement-based video games have enlightened the possibility of genuine research between gaming and health, which will perhaps break the “couch potato” stereotype that gamers are reputable for. I used the example of Wii Bowling, which is part of the collection of Wii Sports. I explain that these games, which also include tennis, baseball, golf and boxing, were designed to “demonstrate the motion-sensing capabilities of the Wii Remote”

I also explored the growing VR technology as a form of training athletes. It’s benefits, I have discovered include the minimisation of possible risk injuries and “wear-and-tear” that occurs when you’re on the field. I also did some research on a company called STRIVR Labs. This company uses VR to prepare professionals and college athletes for competition.

My next blog post will focus on non-movement based video games and the mental skills that can be developed and trained. Hope this is of interest to you!

Using movement-based video games to train professional athletes – is this the future?

BCM215, Uncategorized

Movement-based video games have enlightened the possibility of genuine research between gaming and health, which will perhaps break the “couch potato” stereotype that gamers are reputable for. Sport-related video games, such as Madden NFL, NBS and MVP Basketball, to name a few, are increasingly popular in the community. Virtual Reality (VR) has additionally become more accessible, and with proper research conducted by STRIVR, we can determine the future possibility of using gaming as a form of professional training.

Playing video games is habitually perceived as an activity with little to no beneficial outcomes. Like watching television and using the computer, it is considered a sedentary hobby that has frequently been associated with boosting obesity. Movement-based video games enable their users to employ active body movements as a mode of interaction (Pasch, M. et al, 2009). Movement-based video games can range from motion-sensing games like Wii Sports to Virtual Reality such as Everybody’s Gold VR and Echo Arena. In order to consider movement-based video games as a form of professional training, they need to mimic certain movements that allow for skill improvement, including natural control, physical challenge, mimicry of movements and proprioceptive feedback.

Not only could movement-based games be additional support for off-the-field training in the professional world, but this would also conclude that playing video games could become part of the solution against obesity by requiring their users to be physically active and move away from the couch potato stereotype.

Before I explore the potential in training the professionals, I want to see how movement-based video games can affect individuals who may need to focus more on their health daily. One game that I certainly have enjoyed in the past that allows users to stand and move around is Wii bowling. Wii bowling is one of 5 games that are part of a collection known as Wii Sports. These games, which also include tennis, baseball, golf and boxing, were designed to “demonstrate the motion-sensing capabilities of the Wii Remote” (Fandom, 2009). The objective is the hit the virtual pins at the end of the lane using the controller device as if it was an actual bowling ball. Differences in real-life bowling and the virtual game would be the weight of the ball versus the controller device. It is not the most straining activity, however, you are required to get out of your chair and move around to enjoy the full purpose of the game.

A study was conducted by Lucas A. Willoughby, a former graduate from the University of West Florida, and by directing 44 elderly individuals to play Wii Bowling, he found that the game increased the heart rate of the participants by approximately 40 per cent. He exclaimed that “the older adults felt more enthusiastic and rejuvenated” and were “in better psychological shape than when they started.” Elizabeth DiRico, who works for a WellPoint health benefits company fitness centre and was also part of the study noted that the boxing game provided more of an exercise boost, equivalent to a light jog (Medicine Net, 2009).

The Professional’s

We have concluded that even simple movement-based video games can have a positive impact on the health of individuals in an everyday setting. So what can these games do to positively affect professional athletes in their training? Virtual Reality games that simulate real-life sports are becoming increasingly popular. Using VR as a form of training is positive as it minimises the possibility of risk injuries and “wear-and-tear” that occurs when you’re on the field. A former kicker on Stanford’s football team Derek Belch started investigating and experimenting with VR and sports. He became the founder of STRIVR Labs, which is a company that uses VR to prepare professionals and college athletes for competition.

An example of STRIVR’s work with preparing athletes for the real deal is their work with U.S. Ski and Snowboard. Through VR they can recreate the course that athletes are preparing to compete on, allowing for significant preparation for their upcoming race. They call this process “mental access”, as it allows the competitors to mentally prepare for their race, such as “the positions of the gates, the terrain, the way the turns appear—all this mental prep and visualization is crucial to this sport at the highest level” (STRIVR, 2018).

STRIVR additionally helped famous basketball player Ian Mahinmi, who’s played centre in the NBA and won the championship with the Dallas Mavericks in 2011. STRIVR’s research concluded that after playing constant virtual reps for three weeks, Mahinmi’s free throw percentage increased from 59.7% to 73%. Virtual Reality gave Mahinmi a chance to practice without putting strain on his body, with the “repetitiveness in the life-like immersive setting” allowing him to “internalize the motions, and get the feel of being on the court” (Willage, J, 2018).

Movement-based video games come with a lot of benefits that allow individual gamers so move their bodies, which can ultimately enhance skills through repetitive movements and cardiovascular efficiency. Research is still being made to determine if these games are a less-riskier and effective option for professional athletes. However, with companies such as STIVR, we know that VR and other movement-based games do have positive implications on skills.

References:

Fandom. 2009. Wii Sports. [ONLINE] Available at: https://wiisports.fandom.com/wiki/Wii_Sports. [Accessed 11 September 2019].

Medicine Net. 2009. Interactive Video Games Offer Exercise Benefits. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=100998. [Accessed 11 September 2019].

Pasch, M. et al, 2009. Movement-based Sports Video Games: Investigating Motivation and Gaming Experience. Entertainment Computing, [Online]. 1/2, 49-61. Available at: https://people.lu.usi.ch/paschm/pdf/2009_jec.pdf [Accessed 18 September 2019].

STRIVR. 2018. Going For Glory: STRIVR and U.S. Ski & Snowboard. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.strivr.com/strivr-skiing/. [Accessed 18 September 2019].

Willage, J., 2018. Using VR to improve free throw percentage in the NBA. STRIVR, [Online]. 1, 1-4. Available at: https://www.strivr.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/Mahinmi-FTs.pdf [Accessed 18 September 2019].

BCM215 DA PROJECT PITCH

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Can video games make you a better athlete?

An important requirement for athletes in any sport is practice. Endurance, stamina and reaction times are just some examples of what individuals who play sports need to build in order to excel in what they do. You wouldn’t normally think of video games and athleticism in the same category of sport-based learning, however, skills such as problem-solving, speed, hand-eye coordination and spatial awareness can be developed through playing video-games. Additionally, these are all important traits that athletes need to excel in their sports.

In my digital artefact, I want to research the correlations between sports training and video games that have a positive impact on athletes. I want to know, do video games help athletes to think in abstract ways? Does it strengthen their skills and their ability to play well?

I want to explore the research of sports-scientists, who have now been using analytics of video games to “test what some say is the next frontier in sports — the mind” (Estefanell, 2017).

An example of a game that is being used by athletes to test and improve their skills for games is a program called IntelliGym. IntelliGym was developed initially for Israeli fighter pilots, which tests cognitive performances such as spatial awareness. This program is currently being used by top European soccer clubs (Estefanell, 2017).

My intention for this digital artefact is to recognise the promise of the use of video games as sport-related training for professional athletes. I want to know if it is a useful test for cognitive performance and even physical benefits in both movement-based video games and non-movement-based video games.

Check out my Project Pitch on Youtube below:

References:

Videogames.org.au. (2019). Skills development as a benefit of playing video games. [online] Available at: https://www.videogames.org.au/skills-development/ [Accessed 14 Aug. 2019].

Estefanell, I. (2017). Could video games be the key to athletic success? | CBC Sports. [online] CBC. Available at: https://www.cbc.ca/sports/brain-gaming-industry-athletic-success-1.4114268 [Accessed 14 Aug. 2019].