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Research Project: Childhood Obesity Prevention

Location: Children's Nutrition Research Center

Title: Development of a teen-focused exergame

Author
item Thompson, Deborah - Debbe
item Cantu, Dora - Children'S Nutrition Research Center (CNRC)
item Rajendran, Madhur - University Of Houston
item Rajendran, Mayur - University Of Houston
item Bhargava, Tanay - University Of Houston
item Zhang, Yuting - University Of Houston
item Chen, Cheng - University Of Houston
item Liu, Yan - Children'S Nutrition Research Center (CNRC)
item Deng, Zhigang - University Of Houston

Submitted to: The Games for Health Journal: Research, Development, and Clinical Applications
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 8/30/2016
Publication Date: 10/1/2016
Publication URL: http://handle.nal.usda.gov/10113/63270
Citation: Thompson, D.J., Cantu, D., Rajendran, M., Rajendran, M., Bhargava, T., Zhang, Y., Chen, C., Liu, Y., Deng, Z. 2016. Development of a teen-focused exergame. The Games for Health Journal: Research, Development, and Clinical Applications. 5(5):342-356.

Interpretive Summary: Many teens do not meet federal recommendations for physical activity; however, they do play videogames, including exergames (video games that require bodily movement to play). Exergames may be a way to help teens be more physically active, but results have been mixed. This paper discusses the development of an exergame played by a self-representational (i.e., digital representation) avatar. Formative research with teens provided important information regarding their preferences and expectations in videogames. Gender similarities and differences were observed. This research contributes to the body of knowledge regarding how to design an appealing exergame for teens that is navigated by an avatar that looks like them.

Technical Abstract: Exergames require body movement to play and may be an effective method for enhancing teen physical activity. However, results have been mixed. Innovative methods are needed to develop exergames that increase and maintain physical activity. Self-representational avatars, or avatars created from a digital image of an individual, may increase physical activity (e.g., intensity, duration) during exergame play. This paper addresses this novel idea by describing the development of an exergame played with a self-representational (i.e., photo realistic) avatar. Twelve to fourteen year olds, stratified by gender, body mass index, and physical activity, were invited to participate in two rounds of data collection. Each round consisted of an online survey, followed by a telephone interview to ensure comprehension. Following the first round, an exergame prototype and the system for creating the self-representational avatar were created. A second round of data was collected to obtain information with which to create a fully functional exergame and the avatar creation system. Forty-eight teens were recruited. The sample was multi-ethnic (42% White, 38% Black, 19% Hispanic, 2% Mixed/Other). Complete data were obtained on 48 teens in the first round of data collection and 43 in the second round. Teens provided important information regarding preferences and expectations. Gender similarities and differences were observed. This research contributes to the body of knowledge regarding how to design an appealing exergame for teens navigated by a self-representational avatar.