Monday, December 04, 2006

McDonald's Kiddie Gyms! Ha!

From USAToday, a disturbing and hilarious story about McDonald's new attempt to pacify the mounting uproar over childhood obesity (and their contribution to the problem) by replacing its famous PlayPlaces with "R Gyms" ("R" for Ronald of course). They're currently being tested in seven outlets across the US and, if successful, may soon become available nationwide. From the article:

Some typical R Gym gear:
- Video bikes. The stationary bikes are hooked to video games kids can only play while peddling.

- Electronic hoops. T he mini-basketball court gives electronic feedback like cheers and broadcasts "Great Shot!" when a kid makes a basket.

- Climbing equipment. Think rocks of molded plastic. Monkey bars. And some have climbing ropes.

- Video dance pads. Kids dance on electronic pads that signal video screens to show the moves.

It looks like a strong focus is being placed on hybrid fitness/video game technologies...Which of course opens the door for all kinds of corporate "synergy" including, most obviously, the use of advergames and other forms of "sponsored" games (that would coordinate with Happy Meals campaigns, for example). What I really don't get is, isn't playing on play structures pretty active already? This is ultimately just lipservice--come and eat unhealthy fast food and we'll let you play in our "high-tech" gym to burn off some of the calories we've sold you.

Anyway, if you're interested in childhood obesity, I just found a great site for resources on media and childhood obesity at Common Sense Media.

1 comment:

Florence Chee said...

Wow... there's something really sad about imagining a kid at McD's eatin' fries on a stationary bike...

But, what I do welcome is more physicality in video games now that we 'can' in things like the Wii. Way back when DDR came out I was on it like white on rice ;)