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Research Project: Childhood Obesity Prevention

Location: Children's Nutrition Research Center

Title: What type of narrative do children prefer in active video games? An exploratory study of cognitive and emotional responses

Author
item Lu, Amy - Northeastern University
item Buday, Richard - Archimage, Inc
item Thompson, Deborah - Debbe
item Baranowski, Tom - Children'S Nutrition Research Center (CNRC)

Submitted to: Book Chapter
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: 10/21/2014
Publication Date: 1/1/2016
Citation: Lu, A.S., Buday, R., Thompson, D.J., Baranowski, T. 2016. What type of narrative do children prefer in active video games? An exploratory study of cognitive and emotional responses. In: Tettegah, S.Y., Huang, W.D., editors. Emotions, Technology, and Digital Games. London, UK: Academic Press. p. 137-155.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Physical activity (PA) is critical in preventing childhood obesity, and lowering risk of certain cancers. Active video games (AVGs) provide an innovative promising method for increasing PA and enhancing health outcomes, especially among children. While AVGs could prevent childhood obesity, a child's motivation to play an AVG decreases quickly. Narratives, or stories, possess unique motivational properties that may encourage long-term AVG play. This study tested four short fantasy stories (adventure, fable, mystery, comedy) to be shown at the beginning of an AVG (on the Wii console: Swordplay: Showdown). Twenty children saw each video (in random order) and were interviewed in regard to each. The mystery was selected as the narrative to be further developed. The interviews revealed that narratives can enhance AVGs, as long as they align with gameplay, naturally induce intrinsic motivation, accommodate children's developmental capacities, and present personable characters. Planned research will provide insight for the design of innovative and effective media products for various health interventions.