My Topics

9 October 2014

Three Ways to Increase Physical Effort During Exergames

Keywords: games, survey, North America, gaming, health, interactive media, media, young adults,

Exergames can successfully increase young people's physical effort. But little is known about the factors that influence players’ physical effort while playing an exergame. A study in Health Psychology shows that experiencing enjoyment, engagement, and competence while playing the game increases young adults physical effort during exergames.

Take aways

  • Previous research shows that exergames are successful in increasing physical effort.
  • This study shows that young adults show more physical effort during exergames when they:
    1. experience more enjoyment while playing the game
    2. experience higher levels of engagement
    3. feel more competent (which increases enjoyment)
  • Thus, it seems beneficial for exergame developers to increase players’ engagement and competence, as this will increase exergame enjoyment and physical effort.

Study information

  • The question?

    Which factors (engagement, control, enjoyment, competence, and BMI status) increases young adults' physical effort during exergames?
  • Who?

    97 young adults between the ages of 18 and 35 years (mean age: 24 years old; 52% female)
  • Where?

    United States
  • How?

    This study was part of a larger study wherein eight different exergames were compared. For this study only the interactive dance game ‘Dance Dance Revolution’ (i.e., a music video game that requires dance fast-foot movements) was used.

    At the start of the study the young adults were weighed and their height was measured, from which their BMI status was calculated. They also filled out a short survey about their gender, age, and ethnicity. Afterwards they played the exergame for approximately 10 minutes.

    At the end of the study they filled out the last survey which measured their enjoyment, engagement, competence, and control. Their physical effort during the game was measured with an accelerometer that tracked players’ activity.

Facts and findings

  • Young adults were more active during the exergame when they experienced enjoyment while playing the game or had a high BMI status.
  • Higher levels of control, engagement, and competence while playing the exergame did not directly influence players’ physical effort during the game.
  • However, higher levels of engagement or competence while playing the game increased players’ enjoyment, which in turn led to more physical activity during the exergame.
  • In addition, players experienced more enjoyment while playing the game when they felt engaged or competent during the exergame.
  • Critical note: This study does not allow for any conclusions about cause (e.g., enjoyment) and effect (e.g., physical effort). The results only show that young adults’ experience and BMI are associated with their physical effort during the exergame and cannot say anything about what causes what.