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Kinecting in a World of Duty

Sunday, November 06, 2011

I’ve always been a fan of video games and technology. Anything that would marry the two would be icing on the cake. Starting out on the NES, I would hook up every accessory available, from Broderbund’s U-Force controller to the Miracle Piano Teaching System. So naturally, when Microsoft announced they were releasing a product that would be able to track your entire body, I was first in line.

Prior to the launch of Kinect for Xbox 360, I was already trying to get back into shape. I was using SparkPeople.com to guide my habits and the Wii to get in shape. The Wii Fit was a great product for me, but seemed more of an introduction to exercise, versus a substitute for it. The Wii Fit was where I found my love for Yoga, so no complaints there. However, I couldn’t wait for the release of the Kinect. Every video I watched only made me hunger more.

One of the nice things about SparkPeople is the ability to create groups, similar to Facebook. Knowing how powerful and amazing Kinect would be, I set out to start a fitness group called, “Kinect to Spark”. I solicited the help of Tema Chipo, who has been an amazing motivator in other video game groups. At the launch of Kinect in November 2010, we had about eight members. From that point, we tried everything in the book to drive growth of the group. And not just growth, but growth while motivating members of the group.

When the Kinect launched, it was evident how transformational it would be in people’s lives. Our members were finding amazing exercise in everything from Your Shape Fitness Evolved to Dance Central. Even the game that came bundled with the Kinect, Kinect Adventures, proved to be a fitness challenge in some areas.

Needless to say, the Kinect sells itself, especially to those that are looking to become more active. There are days where I just like to go to Best Buy and watch people try out the Kinect display. I love watching the magic in people’s eyes when they first experience the Kinect. Usually what happens is, they try out the Kinect for about 20 minutes, call someone over to watch them play, and then they go seek out where it is sold. It’s hard to explain to people what it does and feels like. Once they’ve played it, the magic begins.

We certainly had the momentum rolling, coming off of the holiday season. However, in February, I suffered a Sudden Cardiac Arrest. My parents were in town visiting and we started off the day playing a bit of the Kinect. From there, we went out to eat and the next thing I remember was having my chest pounded on. 72 shocks and a coma later, I woke up feeling like a train hit me. To this day, doctors don’t know what caused my Cardiac Arrest. My heart was clean, but there was some kind of electrical storm that dropped me instantly.

While this momentarily set me back, both in exercise and weight loss, I am thankful for the experience. While recovering, I became addicted to another technology called OnLive. Essentially, OnLive is a streaming video game service. You can think of it as Netflix streaming, but for video games. I became increasingly involved in the community and even started reaching out to developers and publishers about putting their games onto the service.

Thanks to the connections I was able to make with OnLive, I then had inroads to people working on Kinect games. Looking to reignite my Kinect team, I started up another site, called Kinect Reviews and Interviews. Since September, I have been reviewing games, conducting interviews, and hosting contests on the site. All for the purpose of driving people to our Kinect fitness group.

Today the Kinect fitness group is thriving. Sure, there is always room for improvement, but we have come a long way. We currently have a weight loss contest with some nice prizes the members have contributed. We also have a virtual walk across the country, ways to motivate each other on Xbox Live, a Facebook group, another contest to win Dance Central 2, and many other things to keep each other active and motivated.

So while we may hit a few snags in the road, such as losing members or PR companies not responding the way I want, there are always rebounds, such as making a new video game industry contact or seeing a member reach a healthy milestone. These member milestones are actually the reasons I keep driving on. We’ve had members that have lost over 100 pounds-playing video games. So while the world of video games may be full of the Call of Duties, I can still find solace in the success of the Kinect for Xbox 360.
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
  • K1TT3N
    We are all addicted to kentic in my house , Fruit Ninja is like my therapy even when i had my 4th heart attack last month i could not wait to get back to it. I am back up to at least 30 minutes a day!
    Ryan, I appreciate everything you do with this group , you inspire me so much. Thanks for all you do!
    We use our kentic daily in our house , We love to read the reviews you put up.
    We also have everyone else we know around to play, usually Sunday's I watching my sister's 4 kids , and 3 of them ( the other is 4 months old) and my kids and I play all day until it's Steeler's time of course , New Years Eve we babysat and was a Kentic party!
    Thanks for having this team and allowing us to be part of it. You inspire us all the time.. this is the 1st group i joined a challenge in and i finished it.
    3216 days ago
  • no profile photo CD6851971
    LOVE 'kinecting'!!!
    3230 days ago
  • no profile photo CD11180517
    Wow! I am a fairly new member of the Spark Kinect Team. I can not begin to express how much I appreciate all the hard work you do for the Team. I have learned so much from the Kinect Team. It has really Sparked me into action. I LOVE the Kinect for exercising!

    I have had some episodes of exercise induced atrial fibrillation in the past, very scary! Electrical problem that the doctors couldn't figure out. For a long time I was afraid to exercise. Now I take a beta blocker and wear a heart rate monitor when I exercise. Haven't had any problems since then. I can only imagine what going through your heart situation has been like for you!

    I have joined several other Teams, but I always seem to be drawn to my Kinect Team. Lots of information, and I love the contests and drawings! Thanks for all that you do!

    3272 days ago
  • no profile photo CD357306
    I love this blog also....It's so motivating.....you're doing an awesome job Ryan with the team....keep it up

    3279 days ago
    And, again, I must say emoticon .

    You are an incredible inspiration and motivator. Not only have you motivated me to be more active with the Kinect (which I do dearly love), but it's trickled down to my children (my son is 11 and has a BMI of 96%, but he barely looks chunky, 'cept a little in the tummy), my husband, nieces, nephews, and even the neighborhood kids. I encourage everyone who loves video games to invest in Kinect. It's an investment in so much more than a piece of electronics!
    3279 days ago
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    Disclaimer: Weight loss results will vary from person to person. No individual result should be seen as a typical result of following the SparkPeople program.