March 3rd, 2006

Why DDR is A-OK in WVA

GamePolitics and other news sources have reported on West Virginia's efforts to combat childhood obesity with Konami's Dance Dance Revolution. DDR is being used in the state as a supplement to school health and phys-ed courses.

How did this all come about? A pair of interviews (here and here) at BlueAlien.org shed some light on the program's genesis and Konami's level of involvement with West Virginia officials.

Games for Health is the pilot project conducted last year at West Virginia University and funded by the Public Employee Insurance Agency (PEIA) to evaluate the effects of a game-based home exercise routine on cardiovascular fitness. The program measured results of at-risk or overweight children, ages 7 to 12 following a 12-week DDR regimen. The promising data obtained from the study prompted PEIA to partner with the state's Department of Education.

"We quickly came up with 20 PE teachers who were more than happy to try this out," said Melanie Purkey, Director of the Office of Healthy Schools, "and they came back with very positive input that students liked it. In particular it was attractive to the student who is not your traditional student who exceeds in physical education classes. but the students who normally want to not dress and sit out on the bleachers. It attracted that student to PE class and to being physically active."

Although officials wanted to introduce the program to all West Virginia schools, Purkey said money was tight.

"So we...contacted Konami and said, 'We're getting some national press that's attached to your game. We really would like to expand this project. could we partner with you to do that?'" Konami agreed to help and donated $75,000.

Not just a supplement to gym class, DDR setups in public schools are being made available to students and faculty both before and after school.

"They're looking at how to make it available, before school particularly... in West Virginia we have many consolidated schools that kids travel and the bus schedule is such that some kids get to school and they have to wait a half an hour or 45 minutes before their first period. This (DDR) will give them something physically active to do during that time. One of the plans... is to develop some clubs so students can have competitions from school-to-school... that's in the long-range plan and I think that's happening in other places as well."

Konami will soon have information on their website for other schools wishing to adopt their own DDR programs.

-Andrew Eisen

Oklahoma Video Game Legislation Faces Tuesday Deadline

As reported by GamePolitics, Oklahoma Rep. Fred Morgan (R) looked a bit silly silly last December when he praised the Safe Game Illinois Act as a model for his own state two days after a federal judge ruled the Illinois law unconstitutional.

Morgan has a video game bill of his own to worry about now. According to a Morgan staffer, HB3004 must be passed by Tuesday or it will fail. The bill is currently with the Corrections and Criminal Justice Committee of the Oklahoma House.

GP is unable to provide readers with the text of Morgan's bill at this time. The version of HB3004 currently listed on the website of the Oklahoma legislature deals with child pornography issues. We pointed this out to Morgan's staffer, but were assured that HB3004 was Morgan's video game bill.

We're unable to parse that any further at this point. It could mean that the website has the wrong info, or that Morgan will be completely changing the language of the bill to address the video game question. In any event, we will know by next Tuesday.

GP: Legislation Tracker updated to include Oklahoma bill info.

GamePolitics Gets the MTV Treatment

"Look at them yo-yo's, that's the way you do it..."

That's not quite how Stephen Totilo of MTV News characterized GamePolitics, but it's close enough. Stephen, one of our favorite scribes, checks out GP's new Legislation Tracker map and finds it worthy.

Read what Stephen had to say here. Our favorite line in the MTV piece?

"Rest easy, gamers in Montana and New Mexico. You're not on Dennis McCauley's map - yet."

Ah, who am I kidding? Any line with my name in it is my favorite...

We also really like when GP readers get quoted. Stephen includes a comment from GP regular Shaun Skipper in the piece, which is cool.

Could EA Fumble Madden Monopoly Deal? Let's Hope So

Talk about upsets!

Could EA's choke hold on NFL-licensed video games be in jeopardy just one season into the odious five-year deal signed with the league and the player's union (NFLPA)?

Citing an article in GamersReports, Joystiq points out that current problems in resolving a new collective bargaining agreement could spell trouble for EA's flagship sports franchise, Madden NFL.

"The players either will be on strike or the owners will lock out players in 2008... the union likely will de-certify, and antitrust rules will apply."

Federal anti-trust regulations could void EA's exclusive contract which has turned Madden from a game into a monopoly.

Although we're long time Madden fans, in GP's mind, EA deserves to get whacked with the anti-trust stick. We've been calling for a Justice Department monopoly investigation since the deal was announced last year.

Although GP took a fair amount of heat on this issue, we think events proved our point. Madden 2006 sold for $49.99 or $59.99 (Xbox 360 version) last season, the first under the monopoly setup. The previous year, thanks to hot competition from 2K Sports' excellent NFL2K5, Madden cost only $29.99. In addition, the pricey Xbox 360 version of Madden pretty much sucked.