Location: Children's Nutrition Research CenterTitle: Incorporating behavioral techniques into a serious video game for children
Submitted to: The Games for Health Journal: Research, Development, and Clinical Applications
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 1/10/2017
Publication Date: 2/23/2017
Publication URL: http://handle.nal.usda.gov/10113/5642526
Citation: Thompson, D.J. 2017. Incorporating behavioral techniques into a serious video game for children. The Games for Health Journal: Research, Development, and Clinical Applications. doi:10.1089/g4h.2016.0066.
Interpretive Summary: Little is known about how to design serious video games for children. This paper addressed this problem by describing how key behavior change techniques promoting behavioral self-regulation were integrated into a serious videogame promoting fruit and vegetable consumption to elementary-aged children and the extent to which the techniques were used by children. Results indicated that children participated in the self-regulatory components and reported favorable reactions to the game. Modifications to streamline the game were identified. This research contributes to the design of serious games by demonstrating that self-regulatory components can be incorporated into a serious videogame without detracting from overall appeal.
Technical Abstract: Little is known about how to design serious video games for children. The purpose of this paper is to describe how behavior change techniques promoting self-regulation were incorporated into a serious video game to help children consume more fruit and vegetables, and the extent to which these techniques were used by players. A secondary goal is to contribute to the body of scientific knowledge regarding how to design effective serious video games for children. This research examines the game-play data from an effective ten-episode online serious video game promoting fruit and vegetable consumption to preadolescent children in the United States (roughly 9-11 year olds). Children participated in the self-regulation components. Modifications to reduce potential cognitive overload and inform future game design were identified. This research provided suggestive evidence that behavior change techniques promoting self-regulation can be successfully integrated into a serious video game for children without detracting from game appeal. It also emphasizes the importance of formative research to the design of an appealing game where children understand and can successfully perform the behavior change procedures.