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Could gaming teach kids to eat their vegetables?

While my wife has always loved vegetables – god knows what her parents did to convince her of that idea – it's taken me well into my young adult years to understand that they can be tasty, that they're good for me and that I feel better if I eat plenty of them. That's not something that's easy to teach kids, but one man in Japan feels like he might have a high-tech idea to help.

Takayuki Kosaka, Ph.D has invented a video game that has you shooting at giant vegetables – which sounds like a relatively dull gameplay idea, until the real mechanic comes in to play. When your gun runs out of ammo, you have to reach forward to one of the cups on scales in front of you and eat what's within. What is in those cups? Vegetables of course.

Shouldn't they be shooting something like these guys instead?

Eating them followed by a smile at the camera tells it to reload the gun with how much you ate. For now, in its prototype form, those “vegetables,” are vegetable flavoured biscuits, to make measurements and weight easier to take into consideration, but presumably real vegetables would be substituted in the final version.

The smile is important too, as according to Kosaka, this will create a response that's favourable when eating the vegetables, teaching the kids that eating them is good and creating a connection with the positive feelings associated with a smile. At least in theory.

While Kosaka admits that this wouldn't be practical in the home due to the specialised equipment necessary, he hopes to bring it to schools as a potential way of encouraging healthier eating.

KitGuru Says: This seems like an interesting concept, but it all swings on how effective that pavlovian smile/eating idea is. [Thanks Wired]

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