In adding social interaction to the gym, we have decided to specifically focus on the treadmill. By studying different comparable products we hope to isolate what aspects successfully encourage enjoyable social interaction. Using these aspects we then hope to redesign the treadmill into a competitive, highly enjoyable and social product.
Arcade Racing Games
Similarly to the treadmill, arcade racing games are composed of single-person units placed in one forward-facing row. A screen occupies the user’s attention for a majority of the time, and only the people directly to the sides are accessible for chit-chat. However, the games are clearly competitive and designed to encourage users to interact with each other. Each unit is placed close to one another, and the distance between adjacent players allows for comfortable conversation. Each unit is also carved with open sides, unlike the treadmill, whose hand supports wrap around to create a slight wall. Many developers even develop their machines by attaching two single-person units together, as in the representative picture above: this ensures that when an arcade installs the game, there are spots for at least two people. The traditional racing game we know today will allow users to choose their car, driver etc: it will then have the user wait as it checks for any other users on the network. If any other users have chosen the same track, they will be linked to the pending game, where they can then proceed to compete against each other. There is a clear ranking system and at times there may be a leader board. Placing the treadmills closer together would encourage users to interact with one another.
Multi-player Video game: Super Smash Brothers Brawl
Like the arcade racing game, multi-player video games encourage competition among users: the experience is not as complete or satisfying as when playing individually. In Super Smash Brothers Brawl, the main premise is for users to choose to play as their favorite video game character from a number of Nintendo franchises: each character has their own unique skills and abilities. Players then fight against each other to knock out opponents from the stage. The feel of the game is competitive but light-hearted, ensuring that the mood does not sour among players. Everybody plays on a single screen, and all players must give their consent before a game begins. Althought the game has little in relation with the treadmill, its ability to successfully engage players in light-hearted informal gameplay makes it a notable product for our research. It is considered one of the most successful multi-player video games and is able to appeal to both light and hard-core gamers.
Although not necessarily a product, the school gym and its associated physical education class is a notable environment for actively engaging all students to participate together. As it is a class, participation among members is required in many activities, contrasting it from the usual gym. Many activities will usually pit groups of classmates among each other in competitive sports, inciting students to try harder and push themselves for their groupmates. Many students do not necessarily participate in competitive sports requiring teamwork on their own, such as football and basketball, and by being forced via the P.E. coach, they get a taste of what it means to be on a team. From being in teams in my P.E. classes I have generally grown to become more comfortable among the team members and motivated to try harder for the sake of whatever team I am on. In more individual activities that push is gone and I feel more apathetic about my performance. By adding the motivating aspect of teamwork to the treadmill, members of the gym will grow closer together, feel less introverted and gain that extra push and drive to work harder for the team.