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Fitness video games have grown sharply in the past decade, according to a new report released by the game industry’s trade group and a White House study group. That means that getting gamers to exercise is no longer just a novelty; it’s a $750 million a year business.

The Entertainment Software Association and the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition said that 20 percent of all games released in 2011 were ‘”active games,” or those that required gamers to expend energy aside from tapping buttons on a controller. That compares to just 5 percent during the period from 2002 to 2007.

“The enthusiasm surrounding active video games is fundamentally transforming how we play and engage in physical activity,” said Erik Huey, the senior vice president for government affairs at ESA, in a statement. “Not only is this expanding market segment a promising growth opportunity for our industry, but it is also motivating families to exercise and lead healthier, more fulfilling lives.”

The report credited active games to the emergence of motion-sensing game consoles such as the Nintendo Wii and Microsoft’s Kinect for the Xbox 360. Active game sales generated about $750 million in revenues in 2012, and they are expected to be a continued revenue driver for the industry through 2015.


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“It’s widely known that all kids should be active at least 60 minutes a day, but unfortunately, only one-in-three kids are getting that recommended amount, and studies show they are now consuming over 7.5 hours of screen time every day,” said PCFSN member and NBA All-Star Chris Paul of the Los Angeles Clippers in a statement. “And that’s why I’m excited about the growing number of video games that are helping kids and families get active.”

EEDAR, a game market researcher, conducted the study and found that active games encourage healthy activity among children, engage new audiences in physical education classes, and provide a fun activity. More than 90 percent of the active video games released from 2002 to 2012 were rated E or E10+ for all ages and those 10 years older and up.

The ESA and PCFSN are releasing a new challenge dubbed the Active Play Presidential Active Lifestyle Award (PALA+). The fitness award encourages kids to be active for an hour each day.


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