Bowling seniors over with Kinect technology

Mr Eng (centre) striking a pose while playing Kinect Bowling at the senior activity centre at the void deck of Block 170 in Lorong 1, Toa Payoh. The activity is held every Thursday from 10am to noon, and about 16 people are selected to play. Voluntee
Mr Eng (centre) striking a pose while playing Kinect Bowling at the senior activity centre at the void deck of Block 170 in Lorong 1, Toa Payoh. The activity is held every Thursday from 10am to noon, and about 16 people are selected to play. Volunteers and staff keep track of scores.PHOTO: AZIZ HUSSIN FOR THE STRAITS TIMES

Senior activity centre's Xbox 360 bowling sessions draw about 40 participants weekly

Mr Eng Ah Tee, 74, stared intently at three bowling pins on the television screen in front of him.

Bending his knees, he drew his arm back and swung it forward, hurling an imaginary bowling ball.

One such ball appeared on the screen, and looked like it would miss the pins, prompting him to strain his body to the left - as though willing the ball leftward. To his satisfaction, all three pins were taken down. He had scored a spare.

Mr Eng, who works as a cleaner, is part of a group of about 40 senior citizens who were unlikely players and spectators of Xbox 360 video game Kinect Bowling on Oct 17.

The activity is held every Thursday from 10am to noon at the senior activity centre at the void deck of Block 170 in Lorong 1, Toa Payoh.

At each session, about 16 people are selected to play. Volunteers and staff at the centre set up the machine and keep track of scores.

GOOD EXERCISE

It trains your eyes to focus and lets you exercise by bending and swinging.

MR ENG AH TEE, 74, on Xbox 360 video game Kinect Bowling.

The average number of participants at each session has grown by about 60 per cent to 40 since the activity was introduced in April 2013, said Ms Grace Lee, group director at Care Corner Services, which operates the centre.

Initially, many residents were afraid of embarrassing themselves if they did not perform well in front of those watching. However, the centre staff encouraged everyone to clap for players regardless of the outcome and stressed that everyone was in the process of learning.

With more practice, they got better at the game.

The centre bought its equipment for $600, she said, adding that similar sessions were held at Block 149, Lorong 1, Toa Payoh.

Members of the centre aged 60 and above and living in Housing Board rental flats at certain blocks around the centres, can take part.

The game has been well-received by elderly residents at the centre at Block 170, who said it was fun and easy to pick up.

"It trains your eyes to focus and lets you exercise by bending and swinging," said Mr Eng, who got the hang of the game after 10 rounds.

"When I hit all the pins down, I feel happy," he added.

Another resident, Madam Tai Suan Sim, 66, said the game was less stressful than drawing.

"We just play. If it goes well, it goes well, if it doesn't it's okay. (Whereas) when we can't draw the desired outcome it is stressful."

Ms Lee said she thought the participants gained confidence in their ability to master a new task and learned to be open to learning new things by taking part in the activity.

The centre's highest score of 300 - a perfect score - was set by Madam Ong Poh Song, 67, in June.

"Everyone wants to match my score but they can't," she said.

"Some try to use a specific posture or technique, I just throw naturally."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 03, 2016, with the headline 'Bowling seniors over with Kinect technology'. Print Edition | Subscribe