Kids Party - They`ll get a kick out of the simulator!

SportSim News

SportSim serves both the corporate and private hire market. By far the most entertaining events are the kid’s parties we regularly attend…they also provide some of the most interesting observations.

Last weekend we were invited as the star attraction at a 10th birthday party. The young man in question was a soccer enthusiast, and the brief from mum was simple….keep them occupied, keep them entertained and leave them exhausted at the end! Mission accomplished.

The interesting thing to witness at these ‘sport-themed’ parties is the enthusiasm to be active. We live in times where headlines of childhood obesity and vastly inferior lifestyle choices (compared to the ‘good old days’) are commonplace…when you are more likely to find our kids on the couch in front of the computer, rather than down at the park. However, in front of the sport simulator, the kids seem more than comfortable and eager to play until they drop. I started to wonder why.

In essence, the sport simulator brings together the two worlds of activity and computer gaming. Perhaps that’s why the younger generation are so comfortable with it…they relate to the interactive nature of the games, getting real time reward and recognition for ‘achieving’ in the virtual world. These positive feelings are only enhanced and complemented by the intrinsic reward and ‘feel good’ chemicals released from kicking and throwing until they are ready to drop.

Perhaps there’s something in this. In an age where we know that participation in team sport is on the decrease, and kids are getting more of their social interaction through online (anti)social networks rather than through group participation, perhaps some of the elements of computer gaming can be used to motivate and inspire action. You can’t bore people in to change, but you can inspire behavioural change with entertainment and fun (of course it’s a lot more complex, but I am just planting a seed here).

Imagine keeping the physical component of sport, but ‘gamifying’ it in a virtual environment. By hitting skill targets (or simply through repetitions) players or teams can achieve rewards, virtual trophies, unlock new levels, move up leaderboards and explore new worlds. The addictive qualities of computer games, often perceived as detrimental to health, could be leveraged as a force for good rather than evil.

Of course, it’s not an ideal scenario…we want kids being active, being social and getting stuck in to life. But perhaps it can help as a stepping stone if the leap from the couch to the (sports) club seems too far initially.

For now, SportSim will continue to enjoy entertaining the crowds (young and old), and wait for the activity revolution.

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