Exergaming in retirement centres and the integration of media and physical literacies

Bradley Millington

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)
74 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

This paper reports on a multi-method analysis of a recently emergent, though still understudied, trend: the use of exercise-themed video games (i.e., ‘exergames’) in retirement centres. The study in question specifically featured participant observation and interviews with residents and members of staff at retirement centres in Ontario, Canada. Data collection was aimed at understanding how games such as Wii Bowling are being put to use in retirement centre contexts and the implications of such activity. Findings on the one hand suggest that exergames are deemed valuable in the process of promoting both social engagement and physical activity. ‘Virtual’ bowling can bring people together in communal spaces while also ‘getting them up’ and active. On the other hand, however, exergaming presents challenges. For retirement centre residents, it engenders health risks while also demanding the deft synchronization of media and physical literacies. For activities coordinators and other members of staff responsible for residents' care, it means they too must stay abreast of the technology sector's latest innovations; they must develop media and physical literacies of their own. These findings are used as a platform for a broader discussion of aging, embodiment, and media in the paper's final section. Against the backdrop of existing conceptualizations of the third age, the use of exergames in retirement centres is deemed conducive not to independence and consumerism fully-fledged, but rather to the manifestation of ‘quasi-consumerism’ and ‘quasi-independence’ instead. Third age logic is thus both reinforced and subtly undermined.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)160-168
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Aging Studies
Volume35
Early online date18 Sep 2015
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2015

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