Proceedings of The Physiological Society
University of Manchester (2010) Proc Physiol Soc 19, PC80
The Nintendo Wii?
E. A. Sheader1, T. Pocock1
1. Faculty of Life Sciences, The University of Manchester, Manchester, United Kingdom.
An integral component of most physiology honours degrees is the final year research project. However, as student numbers increase and funding becomes tighter this opportunity for students to gain valuable research skills in a laboratory based project may can? be compromised. We have utilized a popular physically interactive gaming console as a tool for students to carry out cost effective, stimulating, human physiology research projects. The Nintendo Wii™ and associated software application “Wii Sport” combines physical activity with the enjoyment of playing a video game. The console works by detecting changes in the motion of the remote controller and users must perform quick arm movements when playing games. The software application “Wii Sport” contains a variety of games, each requiring the user to perform particular movements. These movements are displayed on screen by a computer-generated ‘avatar’. It has been used to encourage recreational play in children and even in rehabilitation and fitness programmes.1 In order for the Wii to be a successful tool for final year projects it must be able to produce reliable, reproducible results that can be analysed by students. Over the past two years we have run several final year projects for physiology undergraduates investigating the effectiveness of different applications of the console (i.e. boxing, free running) in changing physiological variables when compared to traditional forms of exercise (i.e. running on a treadmill). The projects involve students designing their own protocols to test a hypothesis. These projects investigate changes in physiological parameters such as blood pressure, heart rate and oxygen consumption to assess energy expenditure. They also provide valuable experience in experimental design using human volunteers. All projects were approved by the University Ethics Committee for Research conducted on human volunteers. The projects generate sufficient data for the students to analyse whilst enabling them to investigate and research aspects of exercise physiology. These projects have minimal associated running costs and appear popular with the students. They can also be carried out safely in limited space (e.g. teaching labs). Overall, utilization of the Nintendo Wii™ in final year physiology projects has provided a beneficial, cost effective resource that readily engages students in exercise and human physiology. The Wii has proven to be a valuable alternative to traditional human physiology research projects. In addition, it has the potential to provide many future varied and engaging projects and there is never a shortage of keen student volunteers.
Where applicable, experiments conform with Society ethical requirements