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Research Project: Childhood Obesity Prevention

Location: Children's Nutrition Research Center

Title: Narrative increases step counts during active video game play among children

item LU, AMY - Northeastern University
item BARANOWSKI, TOM - Children'S Nutrition Research Center (CNRC)
item HONG, S - Ohio University
item BUDAY, RICHARD - Archimage, Inc
item Thompson, Deborah - Debbe
item BELTRAN, ALICIA - Children'S Nutrition Research Center (CNRC)
item DADABHOY, HAFZA - Children'S Nutrition Research Center (CNRC)
item CHEN, TZU - Children'S Nutrition Research Center (CNRC)

Submitted to: Meeting Abstract
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 2/16/2015
Publication Date: 6/3/2015
Citation: Lu, A., Baranowski, T., Hong, S.L., Buday, R., Thompson, D.J., Beltran, A., Dadabhoy, H., Chen, T.A. 2015. Narrative increases step counts during active video game play among children [abstract]. International Society of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity Annual Conference, June 3-6, 2015, Edinburgh, Scotland. Poster P0.30.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Active video games (AVGs) capable of inducing physical activity (PA) level offer a novel alternative to child obesity. Unfortunately, children's motivation to play AVG decreases quickly, underscoring the need to find new methods to maintain their engagement. According to narrative transportation theory, the more a narrative immerses a person into a story world, the more consistent their beliefs and behaviors should be with that narrative. Narratives may be an important method of motivating continued game play, but their role in AVGs has not been explored. As the first study to systematically explore narrative's effect on children's AVG play, this project addressed two research questions: 1) Will players' cognitive and affective evaluation and motivation to play be more positive for a narrative than a nonnarrative version of an AVG? 2) Will a narrative version of an AVG result in a higher PA level? 40 overweight and obese children (Male = 50%) 10 to 12 years of age played Nintendo Wii Sports Resorts: Swordplay Showdown. Half (N=20) watched a narrative-based video trailer (developed for the game and tested among children previously) before the game play. The other half (N=20) played the game without viewing the narrative trailer. Children were instructed to play as long as they would like. Demographic information, psychosocial variables (the immersion, identification, motivation etc. scales), and PA (via ActiGraphwGT3X-BT) were recorded and analyzed. Children in the narrative group had significantly (p< .05) more steps during play in terms of the average number of steps per 10s period (M=3.2, SD=0.7) and in total (M=523, SD=203) across the entire play period when compared with the non-narrative group (M=2.7, SD=0.7) (M= 366, SD=172). Other than a higher immersion score for the narrative group, no significant difference in psychosocial variables was observed. These findings should be taken with caution as many variables showed low internal consistency. In conclusion, narrative increased PA in children playing an AVG as evidenced by increased step counts. More child-appropriate measures should be developed and validated to measure engagement in narrative-based media. More studies should explore story immersion to maximizing AVG's intervention outcomes.