My Topics

10 June 2014

Interactive Features Crucial For Exergame Success

Keywords: games, technology, North America, computer, gaming, health, interactive media, media, television, video game console, young adults,

Exergames are growing in popularity. To keep up, developers such as Nintendo, PlayStation and Kinect are constantly inventing newer, better, and more interactive systems enhancing players' physical game experience. Exergames more and more contain full motion detection, interactive user interfaces, and advanced 3D graphics. Researchers of a Computers in Human Behavior study wonder whether these technological features influence player's appreciation of and energy burn during the game. It turns out that interactive technology features positively contribute to young adults’ exergame enjoyment and exergame success.

Take aways

  • The more exergames contain interactive technological features (full motion detection, interactive user interfaces), the more young adults appreciate the game and the more successful it is. 
  • Specifically, higher levels of interactive technological features lead to:
    • more presence (feeling of being part of the virtual environment);
    • more enjoyment;
    • more energy burn;
    • greater replay intentions. 
  • For exergame developers it’s therefore worth looking at ways to integrate advanced technology features in their designs, as these features positively contribute to young adults’ enjoyment and exergame success. 

Study information

  • The question?

    Are exergames that offer more advanced technological features (interactive user interfaces, full motion detection etc.) more successful and more appreciated by young adults than those with less advanced technology features? 

  • Who?

    119 students from a large urban university (56% were men; mean age: 23 years old) 

  • Where?

    United States 

  • How?

    The participants were divided into three groups. All were asked to perform exercises demonstrated by their virtual personal trainer, however, the level of body interactions with the game (also referred to as “interface embodiment”) differed. The first group played the Wii personal training program with low level of interface embodiment (video feedback only), the second group played the Wii Fit personal training program with medium level of interface embodiment (video feedback, single-point motion detection, and beep sound), and the third group played the Kinect personal training program with high level of interface embodiment (integrated avatar feedback, whole-body motion detection, and human speech sound). Unlike the first two groups, participants in the third group had the opportunity to create a virtual avatar that looked alike, and because of the full motion detection they received feedback on their actual activity. Participants energy expenditure (change in heart rate) was measured during game play, and their experiences and future play motivations were also asked for after game play. 

Facts and findings

  • Compared to young adults who performed the exercises with low and medium levels of interface embodiment, those who performed the exercises with high levels of interface embodiment
    • felt more part of the virtual environment; 
    • experienced more enjoyment; 
    • were more physically active;
    • had greater intentions to replay the personal training program. 
  • Higher levels of interface embodiment did not influence the intention to exercise more outside the game environment. 
  • Young adults’ greater replay intention can be explained by their increased enjoyment and sense of being part of the game caused by the more advanced technological features. In other words, more immersive interface features in training programs leads to more enjoyment and sense of being part of the game, which in turn increased replay intention.