VR-rides: Immersive virtual reality for health and wellbeing

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis


A number of diseases can be prevented through active lifestyles. Yet, despite technological and non-technological interventions, many people do not engage in exercise. Immersive virtual reality (iVR) offer the opportunity for highly engaging and entertaining experiences. Their designs affects how people are motivated (or not) to engage and exercise. To maximise the benefits of these technologies a model of motivation that can help designers is needed. There is need to investigate psychological constructs of wellbeing: how do users engage with wellbeing technology’s designs? What motivates or demotivates them? And how can constructs borrowed from psychology aid better technological designs? This thesis introduces a framework for comparing designs in VR exergames and use technologies as instruments to study motivation. An iVR exergaming platform – VR-Rides – was developed to explore designs for wellbeing over an iterative design, development and evaluation process. The thesis addresses challenges by understanding users’ perceptions, evaluating iVR designs based on psychological constructs and informing future designs based on findings to promote wellbeing goals. Furthermore, various designs, game narratives and mechanics were developed to engage players in activities that purportedly lead to wellbeing. The research applied a quantitative research methodology, facilitated across five studies conducted in diverse social settings. Four studies particularly explored VR-Rides’ designs for participants’ engagement and motivation in an exergaming setup. In the fifth study we tested the feasibility of the VR-Rides platform to assess memory for age-related cognitive decline. The findings show psychological constructs have a central role in understanding users’ enjoyment and motivation with wellbeing platform, highlight motivating factors, and bridge the gap between technology designs and wellbeing constructs.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • University of Sydney
  • Calvo, Rafael, Supervisor, External person
Award date4 Feb 2020
Publication statusUnpublished - 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Immersive Virtual Reality
  • VR
  • Serious Games
  • Cognitive Assessment
  • VR Games
  • Exergames


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