Exercise and play: earn in the physical, spend in the virtual

Shlomo Berkovsky, Jill Freyne, Mac Coombe, Dipak Bhandari, Nilufar Baghaei, Stephen Kimani

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Contemporary lifestyle is becoming increasingly inactive: a little physical (sport, exercising) and much sedentary (TV, computers) activity. The nature of sedentary activity is often self-reinforcing, such that increasing physical and decreasing sedentary activity is difficult. We present a novel approach aimed at combating this problem in computer gaming. Rather than explicitly changing the amount of physical and sedentary activity a person sets out to do, we propose a new game design that leverages engagement with games in order to motivate players to perform physical activity as part of a traditional sedentary game playing. This work presents the design and evaluates its application to an open source game, Neverball. We altered Neverball by reducing the time allocated for the game tasks and motivated players to perform physical activity by offering time based rewards. A study involving 180 young players showed that the
players performed more physical activity, decreased their sedentary playing time, and did not report a decrease in perceived enjoyment of playing the active version of Neverball. A survey conducted amongst 103 parents revealed their positive attitude towards the activity motivating game design. The obtained results position the activity motivating game design as an approach that can potentially change the way players interact with computer games and lead to a healthier lifestyle.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)22-31
Number of pages10
JournalInternational Journal of Cognitive Technology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Serious Games
  • Game Design
  • Physical Activity
  • Motivation
  • Behavioural Change
  • User Study


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