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Tracking Obesity Using Games

Tracking Obesity Using Games

Research Centre
Art and Design Research Centre

 March 2010

How Design practice can create games that promote physical activity among young adolescents

This project explores how design processes and tools can be used to create games that promote physical activity amongst adolescents. The objectives are to

  • Examine the features and types of games that can attract the end-users
  • Evaluate how physical activity can be embedded into a game that attracts the end-users
  • Design and evaluate a game or a range of games that promote physical activity and that can attract and engage the end-users

This work builds upon an MA project undertaken by Remi Bec which resulted in a board game that promoted social interactions and encouraged physical activity within the family environment based on friendly competition. Design practice led the development of this board game, raised interesting questions about behaviour change and also suggested an interesting way of conducting research. However there was no theory or method associated to the project: is the board game the best format to engage young adolescents? Is family the most motivational environment to promote game and physical activity?

When Remi designed this board game, he did not engage with the end-users and he is now adopting a user-centred, participatory approach. The added knowledge of behaviour change theories as well as investigating the preferences of young adolescents may open up different possibilities and dimensions in the game play.

Remi began the next phase of study with a literature review to explore the different models and theories of behaviour change. Crudely, these can be summarised as identifying intentions and ‘how’ these can be achieved with changes to behaviour, but it is through design practice that the ‘what’ can be challenged and explored. It is through testing a series of games that it will be possible to answer what works and what doesn’t.

A first study enabled Remi to understand end-users and to investigate the participants’ tastes and lifestyle to create a new game design. This was a way of building a strong basis to the research so that he can generate concepts for games appropriately, within the right context while meeting the preferences and expectations of the participants. The second study is about evaluating a range of existing games that can relate to the games Remi has created to figure out what features of these existing games attracts and engages young adolescents so that he can apply the findings to the games he has created.

Further qualitative tests will be conducted to measure the enjoyment and attractiveness of the game created and a final evaluation will follow a mixed method approach in which quantitative data will be gathered to determine whether the game has any impact on physical activity levels of participants.

Researchers involved

Remi Bec - Research Degree Student

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