Physical activity motivating games: virtual rewards for real activity

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

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference proceeding contributionpeer-review

100 Citations (Scopus)


Contemporary lifestyle has become increasingly sedentary: little physical (sports, exercises) and much sedentary (TV, computers) activity. The nature of sedentary activity is self-reinforcing, such that increasing physical and decreasing sedentary activity is difficult. We present a novel approach aimed at combating this problem in the context of computer games. Rather than explicitly changing the amount of physical and sedentary activity a person sets out to perform, we propose a new game design that leverages user engagement to generate out of game motivation to perform physical activity while playing. In our design, players gain virtual game rewards in return for real physical activity performed. Here we present and evaluate an application of our design to the game Neverball. We adapted Neverball by reducing the time allocated to accomplish the game tasks and motivated players to perform physical activity by offering time based rewards. An empirical evaluation involving 180 participants shows that the participants performed more physical activity, decreased the amount of sedentary playing time, and did not report a decrease in perceived enjoyment of playing the activity motivating version of Neverball.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCHI '10, Proceedings of the SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems
Place of PublicationNew York
PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery (ACM)
Number of pages10
ISBN (Electronic)9781605589299
Publication statusPublished - 2010
Externally publishedYes
Event28th Annual Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, CHI 2010 - Atlanta, United States
Duration: 10 Apr 201015 Apr 2010


Conference28th Annual Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, CHI 2010
Country/TerritoryUnited States


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