Child Shrink: Time for Games to Feature Exercise Ratings

As the gaming world continues to evolve further into the era of true interactive gaming, one child psychiatrist thinks it’s time for a new ratings system that informs consumers about a game’s ability to contribute to exercise.

Paul Ballas guest-authored a Wired article on the subject following an introduction to, among other things, Sony’s Move and Microsoft’s Kinect technology at this year’s E3 Expo. Ballas thinks that if videogame developers focused their efforts on creating games that also provided a cardiovascular workout, “there is a real chance of striking a blow against childhood obesity.”

To that end Ballas outlined the type of content descriptors he would like to see:

Similar to Food and Drug Administration-mandated labels on food, an exercise rating system could estimate the calories burned by the average person in an hour of gameplay. The label could range from Sedentary for lean-back, button-intensive shooting games to Active for games with a calorie-expenditure rate comparable to playing basketball.


Alternatively, an independent organization could estimate the minimum calories required to play a videogame per hour, and that rating could be put on the game’s label

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  1. 0
    Kabyk says:

    This "exercise rating" would be more of a marketing concept than any good semaritan cause; because there’s still a large amount of people who think these exercise games aren’t actually exercise games, but more along the lines of Madden, where its a "sports" game but doesnt actually involve exerting yourself.

  2. 0
    Andrew Eisen says:

    What could be inferred by what title alone?

    "Also, ever since MAX DDR has advertised the Workout mode on the back of the box"

    Planning on finishing that statement?


    Andrew Eisen

  3. 0
    Andrew Eisen says:

    Seems kind of a waste of time and money to me.  The vast majority of games will not burn many more calories than you would just sitting there watching TV or reading a book.  The ones that do should be pretty obvious from the title and box art (ex. Wii Fit, EA Sports Active, Gold’s Gym Cardio Workout, etc.).  Then again, there are a few that might not be immediately obvious like Just Dance, We Cheer, or possibly Dance Dance Revolution.

    I think an independent organization managing its own website listing and evaluating the more active titles is the most likely thing to happen.  I don’t see the ESRB adding such a content descriptor and I don’t think the publishers or console manufacturers would be comfortable stamping the game cases with a claim that could easily be brought into question.


    Andrew Eisen

  4. 0
    Thomas McKenna says:

    Cause the thing the video game industry obviously needs is another nebulous rating system they have to spend thousands of dollars on per game.

    Could the sarcasm be tasted through the internet on that one?

  5. 0
    Thad says:

    Not a bad idea.  Seems like it should be opt-in, and should have some actual basis in scientific fact (estimated calories burned, something like that) rather than be a matter of opinion like ESRB ratings, but I think it’s a good way of promoting games that can be physically healthy to play.

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