Kids get fit with Pokeman

With the childhood obesity epidemic status recently updated from ‘looming’ to ‘it’s here”, strategies to support physical activity are a top priority for parents, teachers and video game developers. Believe it or not video games developers have been the source of some of the newest ways to get kids moving and I think some of their strategies are absolutely brilliant.

In particular, I recently saw a 7 year old boy break a sweat trying to earn ‘watts’ for his Pokeman using The PokeWalker for Nintendo DS.  I was on a ferry where I watched the little guy walk laps around the ferry for the duration of the trip so he could ‘level up’ his Pokeman characters.

The pokewalker is a digital pedometer that kids can clip on their waistband and so they can take their Pokeman characters for a ‘stroll’  when they are unable to play their DS. Through an infrared connection you simply transfer one of your Pokemen from the DS to the Pokewalker and off you go. Strolling earns watts (20 steps = 1 watt) which help Pokeman evolve faster, which apparently  is very desirable.

I have heard reports of kids suddenly looking forward to gym class again, choosing to walk to school instead of getting a ride, offering to take the dog for extra walks and running faster during lacrosse practice. I even read about an entire cross country running team with Pokewalkers in their pockets.

I think we may be onto something here, although I am interested to see if the bursts of activity are linked to the novelty of the toy, or if the activity increase persists.

The Pokewalker comes with Soulsilver and HeartGold editions of  Pokeman for the Nintendo DS.

Talkback questions

Have you seen any kids (or adults) walking around with a Pokewalker clipped to their belt?

Do you think you would exercise longer, walk more or park a bit further from your destination if you knew each step you took could be converted into points you could ‘cash in’ somewhere?

Which of the following would be the most appealing for you to ‘move’ for? Fitness apparel like shoes and workout or clothes, coupons or discounts, donation to a charity, free passes to events, beauty and cosmetics?


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