JMIR Publications

JMIR Serious Games

A multidisciplinary journal on gaming and gamification for health education/promotion, teaching and social change.


Journal Description

JMIR Serious Games (JSG, ISSN 2291-9279) is a sister journal of the Journal of Medical Internet Research (JMIR), one of the most cited journals in health informatics (Impact Factor 2016: 5.175). JSG has a projected impact factor (2016) of 3.32. JSG is a multidisciplinary journal devoted to computer/web/mobile applications that incorporate elements of gaming to solve serious problems such as health education/promotion, teaching and education, or social change.
The journal also considers commentary and research in the fields of video games violence and video games addiction.

JMIR Serious Games is indexed in Pubmed, PubMed Central, and also in Thomson Reuters new Emerging Sources Citation Index (ESCI).


Recent Articles:

  • REWIRE neglect exergame Gathering Apples. Source: Image created by the authors; Copyright: The authors; URL:; License: Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY).

    User Perspectives on Exergames Designed to Explore the Hemineglected Space for Stroke Patients With Visuospatial Neglect: Usability Study


    Background: Visuospatial neglect due to stroke is characterized by the inability to perceive stimuli emerging in the area opposite to the side of brain damage. Besides adopting conventional rehabilitation methods to treat neglect symptoms, the use of virtual reality (VR) is becoming increasingly popular. We designed a series of 9 exergames aimed to improve exploration of the neglected side of space. When new VR interventions are designed, it is important to assess the usability aspects of such management strategies within the target population. To date, most studies used questionnaires to assess user satisfaction with the intervention or product being tested. However, only a combination of both quantitative and qualitative data allows a full picture of user perspective. Objective: The purpose of this study was to quantitatively and qualitatively assess patient and therapist perspectives of a VR intervention based on the series of 9 exergames designed to explore hemineglected space. Specifically, we wanted to evaluate (1) perceived-user friendliness of the exergames, (2) attitude towards using the exergames, and (3) intention to use the exergames in the future. Methods: A total of 19 participants (7 patients, 12 therapists) evaluated the exergames they had used 5 times a week during 3 weeks. The Technology Acceptance Model (TAM) questionnaire was filled out after the intervention. Based on those responses, we conducted focus group interviews (with therapists) and individual interviews (with patients). To analyze the TAM questionnaires, we used descriptive statistics. We adopted content and comparative analysis to analyze the interviews and drew illustration maps to analyze the focus group interviews. Results: The therapists took a more critical stance with a mean TAM questionnaire total score of 48.6 (SD 4.5) compared to the patients who had a mean total score of 56.1 (SD 12.3). The perceived user-friendliness score was 5.6 (SD 1.4) for patients and 4.9 (SD 1.4) for therapists. The attitude towards using the exergames was rated 4.8 (SD 1.9) by patients and 3.6 (SD 1.4) by therapists, respectively. The intention to use the exergames in the future was rated 3.9 (SD 2.1) by patients and 3.7 (SD 1.8) by therapists. We gained information on how to improve the exergames in the interviews. Conclusions: Patients and therapists perceived the exergames as user-friendly; however, using the games further with the actual test version was not perceived as conceivable. The therapists were generally more critical towards future use than the patients. Therefore, involving both users to achieve acceptable and user-friendly versions of game-based rehabilitation for the future is deemed crucial and warranted. Trial Registration: NCT02353962; (Archived by WebCite at

  • REWIRE neglect exergames training station (game: Sequence Builder). Source: Image created by the authors; Copyright: Bernadette Tobler-Ammann; URL:; License: Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY).

    Exergames Encouraging Exploration of Hemineglected Space in Stroke Patients With Visuospatial Neglect: A Feasibility Study


    Background: Use of exergames can complement conventional therapy and increase the amount and intensity of visuospatial neglect (VSN) training. A series of 9 exergames—games based on therapeutic principles—aimed at improving exploration of the neglected space for patients with VSN symptoms poststroke was developed and tested for its feasibility. Objectives: The goal was to determine the feasibility of the exergames with minimal supervision in terms of (1) implementation of the intervention, including adherence, attrition and safety, and (2) limited efficacy testing, aiming to document possible effects on VSN symptoms in a case series of patients early poststroke. Methods: A total of 7 patients attended the 3-week exergames training program on a daily basis. Adherence of the patients was documented in a training diary. For attrition, the number of participants lost during the intervention was registered. Any adverse events related to the exergames intervention were noted to document safety. Changes in cognitive and spatial exploration skills were measured with the Zürich Maxi Mental Status Inventory and the Neglect Test. Additionally, we developed an Eye Tracker Neglect Test (ETNT) using an infrared camera to detect and measure neglect symptoms pre- and postintervention. Results: The median was 14 out of 15 (93%) attended sessions, indicating that the adherence to the exergames training sessions was high. There were no adverse events and no drop-outs during the exergame intervention. The individual cognitive and spatial exploration skills slightly improved postintervention (P=.06 to P=.98) and continued improving at follow-up (P=.04 to P=.92) in 5 out of 7 (71%) patients. Calibration of the ETNT was rather error prone. The ETNT showed a trend for a slight median group improvement from 15 to 16 total located targets (+6%). Conclusions: The high adherence rate and absence of adverse events showed that these exergames were feasible and safe for the participants. The results of the amount of exergames use is promising for future applications and warrants further investigations—for example, in the home setting of patients to augment training frequency and intensity. The preliminary results indicate the potential of these exergames to cause improvements in cognitive and spatial exploration skills over the course of training for stroke patients with VSN symptoms. Thus, these exergames are proposed as a motivating training tool to complement usual care. The ETNT showed to be a promising assessment for quantifying spatial exploration skills. However, further adaptations are needed, especially regarding calibration issues, before its use can be justified in a larger study sample.

  • Rehabilitation Gaming System used at Home. Source: Image created by the authors; Copyright: SPECS; URL:; License: Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY).

    Domiciliary VR-Based Therapy for Functional Recovery and Cortical Reorganization: Randomized Controlled Trial in Participants at the Chronic Stage Post Stroke


    Background: Most stroke survivors continue to experience motor impairments even after hospital discharge. Virtual reality-based techniques have shown potential for rehabilitative training of these motor impairments. Here we assess the impact of at-home VR-based motor training on functional motor recovery, corticospinal excitability and cortical reorganization. Objective: The aim of this study was to identify the effects of home-based VR-based motor rehabilitation on (1) cortical reorganization, (2) corticospinal tract, and (3) functional recovery after stroke in comparison to home-based occupational therapy. Methods: We conducted a parallel-group, controlled trial to compare the effectiveness of domiciliary VR-based therapy with occupational therapy in inducing motor recovery of the upper extremities. A total of 35 participants with chronic stroke underwent 3 weeks of home-based treatment. A group of subjects was trained using a VR-based system for motor rehabilitation, while the control group followed a conventional therapy. Motor function was evaluated at baseline, after the intervention, and at 12-weeks follow-up. In a subgroup of subjects, we used Navigated Brain Stimulation (NBS) procedures to measure the effect of the interventions on corticospinal excitability and cortical reorganization. Results: Results from the system’s recordings and clinical evaluation showed significantly greater functional recovery for the experimental group when compared with the control group (1.53, SD 2.4 in Chedoke Arm and Hand Activity Inventory). However, functional improvements did not reach clinical significance. After the therapy, physiological measures obtained from a subgroup of subjects revealed an increased corticospinal excitability for distal muscles driven by the pathological hemisphere, that is, abductor pollicis brevis. We also observed a displacement of the centroid of the cortical map for each tested muscle in the damaged hemisphere, which strongly correlated with improvements in clinical scales. Conclusions: These findings suggest that, in chronic stages, remote delivery of customized VR-based motor training promotes functional gains that are accompanied by neuroplastic changes. Trial Registration: International Standard Randomized Controlled Trial Number NCT02699398 (Archived by at

  • Older adult using a serious game on a tablet. Source: The Authors; Copyright: Rakel Berenbaum; URL:; License: Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY).

    Designing Serious Computer Games for People With Moderate and Advanced Dementia: Interdisciplinary Theory-Driven Pilot Study


    Background: The field of serious games for people with dementia (PwD) is mostly driven by game-design principals typically applied to games created by and for younger individuals. Little has been done developing serious games to help PwD maintain cognition and to support functionality. Objectives: We aimed to create a theory-based serious game for PwD, with input from a multi-disciplinary team familiar with aging, dementia, and gaming theory, as well as direct input from end users (the iterative process). Targeting enhanced self-efficacy in daily activities, the goal was to generate a game that is acceptable, accessible and engaging for PwD. Methods: The theory-driven game development was based on the following learning theories: learning in context, errorless learning, building on capacities, and acknowledging biological changes—all with the aim to boost self-efficacy. The iterative participatory process was used for game screen development with input of 34 PwD and 14 healthy community dwelling older adults, aged over 65 years. Development of game screens was informed by the bio-psychological aging related disabilities (ie, motor, visual, and perception) as well as remaining neuropsychological capacities (ie, implicit memory) of PwD. At the conclusion of the iterative development process, a prototype game with 39 screens was used for a pilot study with 24 PwD and 14 healthy community dwelling older adults. The game was played twice weekly for 10 weeks. Results: Quantitative analysis showed that the average speed of successful screen completion was significantly longer for PwD compared with healthy older adults. Both PwD and controls showed an equivalent linear increase in the speed for task completion with practice by the third session (P<.02). Most important, the rate of improved processing speed with practice was not statistically different between PwD and controls. This may imply that some form of learning occurred for PwD at a nonsignificantly different rate than for controls. Qualitative results indicate that PwD found the game engaging and fun. Healthy older adults found the game too easy. Increase in self-reported self-efficacy was documented with PwD only. Conclusions: Our study demonstrated that PwD’s speed improved with practice at the same rate as healthy older adults. This implies that when tasks are designed to match PwD’s abilities, learning ensues. In addition, this pilot study of a serious game, designed for PwD, was accessible, acceptable, and enjoyable for end users. Games designed based on learning theories and input of end users and a multi-disciplinary team familiar with dementia and aging may have the potential of maintaining capacity and improving functionality of PwD. A larger longer study is needed to confirm our findings and evaluate the use of these games in assessing cognitive status and functionality.

  • Source: Image created by the authors; Copyright: The authors; URL:; License: Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY).

    Rehabilitation-Oriented Serious Game Development and Evaluation Guidelines for Musculoskeletal Disorders


    Background: The progress in information and communication technology (ICT) led to the development of a new rehabilitation technique called “serious game for functional rehabilitation.” Previous works have shown that serious games can be used for general health and specific disease management. However, there is still lack of consensus on development and evaluation guidelines. It is important to note that the game performance depends on the designed scenario. Objective: The objective of this work was to develop specific game scenarios and evaluate them with a panel of musculoskeletal patients to propose game development and evaluation guidelines. Methods: A two-stage workflow was proposed using determinant framework. The development guideline includes the selection of three-dimensional (3D) computer graphics technologies and tools, the modeling of physical aspects, the design of rehabilitation scenarios, and the implementation of the proposed scenarios. The evaluation guideline consists of the definition of evaluation metrics, the execution of the evaluation campaign, the analysis of user results and feedbacks, and the improvement of the designed game. Results: The case study for musculoskeletal disorders on the healthy control and patient groups showed the usefulness of these guidelines and associated games. All participants enjoyed the 2 developed games (football and object manipulation), and found them challenging and amusing. In particular, some healthy subjects increased their score when enhancing the level of difficulty. Furthermore, there were no risks and accidents associated with the execution of these games. Conclusions: It is expected that with the proven effectiveness of the proposed guidelines and associated games, this new rehabilitation game may be translated into clinical routine practice for the benefit of patients with musculoskeletal disorders.

  • Source: Image created by the authors; Copyright: The authors; URL:; License: Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY).

    Gamification in Stress Management Apps: A Critical App Review


    Background: In today’s society, stress is more and more often a cause of disease. This makes stress management an important target of behavior change programs. Gamification has been suggested as one way to support health behavior change. However, it remains unclear to which extend available gamification techniques are integrated in stress management apps, and if their occurrence is linked to the use of elements from behavior change theory. Objective: The aim of this study was to investigate the use of gamification techniques in stress management apps and the cooccurrence of these techniques with evidence-based stress management methods and behavior change techniques. Methods: A total of 62 stress management apps from the Google Play Store were reviewed on their inclusion of 17 gamification techniques, 15 stress management methods, and 26 behavior change techniques. For this purpose, an extended taxonomy of gamification techniques was constructed and applied by 2 trained, independent raters. Results: Interrater-reliability was high, with agreement coefficient (AC)=.97. Results show an average of 0.5 gamification techniques for the tested apps and reveal no correlations between the use of gamification techniques and behavior change techniques (r=.17, P=.20), or stress management methods (r=.14, P=.26). Conclusions: This leads to the conclusion that designers of stress management apps do not use gamification techniques to influence the user’s behaviors and reactions. Moreover, app designers do not exploit the potential of combining gamification techniques with behavior change theory.

  • Serious game evaluation test. Source: The authors; Copyright: The authors; URL:; License: Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY).

    Medical Student Evaluation With a Serious Game Compared to Multiple Choice Questions Assessment


    Background: The gold standard for evaluating medical students’ knowledge is by multiple choice question (MCQs) tests: an objective and effective means of restituting book-based knowledge. However, concerns have been raised regarding their effectiveness to evaluate global medical skills. Furthermore, MCQs of unequal difficulty can generate frustration and may also lead to a sizable proportion of close results with low score variability. Serious games (SG) have recently been introduced to better evaluate students’ medical skills. Objectives: The study aimed to compare MCQs with SG for medical student evaluation. Methods: We designed a cross-over randomized study including volunteer medical students from two medical schools in Paris (France) from January to September 2016. The students were randomized into two groups and evaluated either by the SG first and then the MCQs, or vice-versa, for a cardiology clinical case. The primary endpoint was score variability evaluated by variance comparison. Secondary endpoints were differences in and correlation between the MCQ and SG results, and student satisfaction. Results: A total of 68 medical students were included. The score variability was significantly higher in the SG group (σ2 =265.4) than the MCQs group (σ2=140.2; P=.009). The mean score was significantly lower for the SG than the MCQs at 66.1 (SD 16.3) and 75.7 (SD 11.8) points out of 100, respectively (P<.001). No correlation was found between the two test results (R2=0.04, P=.58). The self-reported satisfaction was significantly higher for SG (P<.001). Conclusions: Our study suggests that SGs are more effective in terms of score variability than MCQs. In addition, they are associated with a higher student satisfaction rate. SGs could represent a new evaluation modality for medical students.

  • Source:; URL:; License: Public Domain (CC0).

    Guidelines for the Gamification of Self-Management of Chronic Illnesses: Multimethod Study


    Background: Gamification is the use of game elements and techniques in nongaming contexts. The use of gamification in health care is receiving a great deal of attention in both academic research and the industry. However, it can be noticed that many gamification apps in health care do not follow any standardized guidelines. Objective: This research aims to (1) present a set of guidelines based on the validated framework the Wheel of Sukr and (2) assess the guidelines through expert interviews and focus group sessions with developers. Methods: Expert interviews (N=6) were conducted to assess the content of the guidelines and that they reflect the Wheel of Sukr. In addition, the guidelines were assessed by developers (N=15) in 5 focus group sessions, where each group had an average of 3 developers. Results: The guidelines received support from the experts. By the end of the sixth interview, it was determined that a saturation point was reached. Experts agreed that the guidelines accurately reflect the framework the Wheel of Sukr and that developers can potentially use them to create gamified self-management apps for chronic illnesses. Moreover, the guidelines were welcomed by developers who participated in the focus group sessions. They found the guidelines to be clear, useful, and implementable. Also, they were able to suggest many ways of gamifying a nongamified self-management app when they were presented with one. Conclusions: The findings suggest that the guidelines introduced in this research are clear, useful, and ready to be implemented for the creation of self-management apps that use the notion of gamification as described in the Wheel of Sukr framework. The guidelines are now ready to be practically tested. Further practical studies of the effectiveness of each element in the guidelines are to be carried out.

  • Female nurse discussing over digital tablet with senior man. Source: iStock by Getty Images; Copyright: xmee; URL:; License: Licensed by the authors.

    Development, Usability, and Efficacy of a Serious Game to Help Patients Learn About Pain Management After Surgery: An Evaluation Study


    Background: Postoperative pain is a persistent problem after surgery and can delay recovery and develop into chronic pain. Better patient education has been proposed to improve pain management of patients. Serious games have not been previously developed to help patients to learn how to manage their postoperative pain. Objective: The aim of this study was to describe the development of a computer-based game for surgical patients to learn about postoperative pain management and to evaluate the usability, user experience, and efficacy of the game. Methods: A computer game was developed by an interdisciplinary team following a structured approach. The usability, user experience, and efficacy of the game were evaluated using self-reported questionnaires (AttrakDiff2, Postoperative Pain Management Game Survey, Patient Knowledge About Postoperative Pain Management questionnaire), semi-structured interviews, and direct observation in one session with 20 participants recruited from the general public via Facebook (mean age 48 [SD 14]; 11 women). Adjusted Barriers Questionnaire II and 3 questions on health literacy were used to collect background information. Results: Theories of self-care and adult learning, evidence for the educational needs of patients about pain management, and principles of gamification were used to develop the computer game. Ease of use and usefulness received a median score between 2.00 (IQR 1.00) and 5.00 (IQR 2.00) (possible scores 0-5; IQR, interquartile range), and ease of use was further confirmed by observation. Participants expressed satisfaction with this novel method of learning, despite some technological challenges. The attributes of the game, measured with AttrakDiff2, received a median score above 0 in all dimensions; highest for attraction (median 1.43, IQR 0.93) followed by pragmatic quality (median 1.31, IQR 1.04), hedonic quality interaction (median 1.00, IQR 1.04), and hedonic quality stimulation (median 0.57, IQR 0.68). Knowledge of pain medication and pain management strategies improved after playing the game (P=.001). Conclusions: A computer game can be an efficient method of learning about pain management; it has the potential to improve knowledge and is appreciated by users. To assess the game’s usability and efficacy in the context of preparation for surgery, an evaluation with a larger sample, including surgical patients and older people, is required.

  • Screen shot of application discussed in the article and pixabay image (montage). Source: The authors and Pixabay; URL:; License: Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY).

    Using Computer Simulations for Investigating a Sex Education Intervention: An Exploratory Study


    Background: Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are ongoing concerns. The best method for preventing the transmission of these infections is the correct and consistent use of condoms. Few studies have explored the use of games in interventions for increasing condom use by challenging the false sense of security associated with judging the presence of an STI based on attractiveness. Objectives: The primary purpose of this study was to explore the potential use of computer simulation as a serious game for sex education. Specific aims were to (1) study the influence of a newly designed serious game on self-rated confidence for assessing STI risk and (2) examine whether this varied by gender, age, and scores on sexuality-related personality trait measures. Methods: This paper undertook a Web-based questionnaire study employing between and within subject analyses. A Web-based platform hosted in the United Kingdom was used to deliver male and female stimuli (facial photographs) and collect data. A convenience sample group of 66 participants (64%, 42/66) male, mean age 22.5 years) completed the Term on the Tides, a computer simulation developed for this study. Participants also completed questionnaires on demographics, sexual preferences, sexual risk evaluations, the Sexual Sensation Seeking Scale (SSS), and the Sexual Inhibition Subscale 2 (SIS2) of the Sexual Inhibition/Sexual Excitation Scales-Short Form (SIS/SES - SF). Results: The overall confidence of participants to evaluate sexual risks reduced after playing the game (P<.005). Age and personality trait measures did not predict the change in confidence of evaluating risk. Women demonstrated larger shifts in confidence than did men (P=.03). Conclusions: This study extends the literature by investigating the potential of computer simulations as a serious game for sex education. Engaging in the Term on the Tides game had an impact on participants’ confidence in evaluating sexual risks.

  • What older people like to play. Source: Wikimedia; Copyright: Sigismund von Dobschütz; URL:; License: Creative Commons Attribution + ShareAlike (CC-BY-SA).

    What Older People Like to Play: Genre Preferences and Acceptance of Casual Games


    Background: In recent computerized cognitive training studies, video games have emerged as a promising tool that can benefit cognitive function and well-being. Whereas most video game training studies have used first-person shooter (FPS) action video games, subsequent studies found that older adults dislike this type of game and generally prefer casual video games (CVGs), which are a subtype of video games that are easy to learn and use simple rules and interfaces. Like other video games, CVGs are organized into genres (eg, puzzle games) based on the rule-directed interaction with the game. Importantly, game genre not only influences the ease of interaction and cognitive abilities CVGs demand, but also affects whether older adults are willing to play any particular genre. To date, studies looking at how different CVG genres resonate with older adults are lacking. Objective: The aim of this study was to investigate how much older adults enjoy different CVG genres and how favorably their CVG characteristics are rated. Methods: A total of 16 healthy adults aged 65 years and above playtested 7 CVGs from 4 genres: casual action, puzzle, simulation, and strategy video games. Thereafter, they rated casual game preference and acceptance of casual game characteristics using 4 scales from the Core Elements of the Gaming Experience Questionnaire (CEGEQ). For this, participants rated how much they liked the game (enjoyment), understood the rules of the game (game-play), learned to manipulate the game (control), and make the game their own (ownership). Results: Overall, enjoyment and acceptance of casual game characteristics was high and significantly above the midpoint of the rating scale for all CVG genres. Mixed model analyses revealed that ratings of enjoyment and casual game characteristics were significantly influenced by CVG genre. Participants’ mean enjoyment of casual puzzle games (mean 0.95 out of 1.00) was significantly higher than that for casual simulation games (mean 0.75 and 0.73). For casual game characteristics, casual puzzle and simulation games were given significantly higher game-play ratings than casual action games. Similarly, participants’ control ratings for casual puzzle games were significantly higher than that for casual action and simulation games. Finally, ownership was rated significantly higher for casual puzzle and strategy games than for casual action games. Conclusions: The findings of this study show that CVGs have characteristics that are suitable and enjoyable for older adults. In addition, genre was found to influence enjoyment and ratings of CVG characteristics, indicating that puzzle games are particularly easy to understand, learn, and play, and are enjoyable. Future studies should continue exploring the potential of CVG interventions for older adults in improving cognitive function, everyday functioning, and well-being. We see particular potential for CVGs in people suffering from cognitive impairment due to dementia or brain injury.

  • Motivation of Pokémon Go. Source:; Copyright: Mimzy; URL:; License: Public Domain (CC0).

    Who Is Still Playing Pokémon Go? A Web-Based Survey


    Background: Poor physical activity is one of the major health care problems in Western civilizations. Various digital gadgets aiming to increase physical activity, such as activity trackers or fitness apps, have been introduced over recent years. The newest products are serious games that incorporate real-life physical activity into their game concept. Recent studies have shown that such games increase the physical activity of their users over the short term. Objective: In this study, we investigated the motivational effects of the digital game “Pokémon Go” leading to continued use or abandonment of the game. The aim of the study was to determine aspects that motivate individuals to play augmented reality exergames and how this motivation can be used to strengthen the initial interest in physical activity. Methods: A total of 199 participants completed an open self-selected Web-based survey. On the basis of their self-indicated assignment to one of three predefined user groups (active, former, and nonuser of Pokémon Go), participants answered various questions regarding game experience, physical activity, motivation, and personality as measured by the Big Five Inventory. Results: In total, 81 active, 56 former, and 62 nonusers of Pokémon Go were recruited. When asked about the times they perform physical activity, active users stated that they were less physically active in general than former and nonusers. However, based on a subjective rating, active users were more motivated to be physically active due to playing Pokémon Go. Motivational aspects differed for active and former users, whereas fan status was the same within both groups. Active users are more motivated by features directly related to Pokémon, such as catching all possible Pokémon and reaching higher levels, whereas former users stress the importance of general game quality, such as better augmented reality and more challenges in the game. Personality did not affect whether a person started to play Pokémon Go nor their abandonment of the game. Conclusions: The results show various motivating elements that should be incorporated into augmented reality exergames based on the game Pokémon Go. We identified different user types for whom different features of the game contribute to maintained motivation or abandonment. Our results show aspects that augmented reality exergame designers should keep in mind to encourage individuals to start playing their game and facilitate long-term user engagement, resulting in a greater interest in physical activity.

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  • The Praise and Price of Pokémon GO -Exploring children’s and parents’ experiences playing Pokémon Go

    Date Submitted: Sep 19, 2017

    Open Peer Review Period: Sep 19, 2017 - Nov 14, 2017

    Background: Physical activity has multiple health benefits, however, the majority of children around the world do not reach the recommended levels of daily physical activity. Research has shown that t...

    Background: Physical activity has multiple health benefits, however, the majority of children around the world do not reach the recommended levels of daily physical activity. Research has shown that the game Pokémon GO has increased the amount of physical activity and that the game has the potential to reach populations that traditionally have low levels of physical activity. Therefore, there is a need to understand which game components that can promote initial and sustained physical activity. By using a qualitative research approach, it is possible to achieve rich descriptions and enhance a deep understanding of the components promoting physical activity among children in a game like Pokémon GO Objective: Explore children’s and parents’ experiences playing Pokémon GO. Methods: Eight families comprising 13 children (aged 7-12 years) and 9 parents were selected using purposeful sampling. Data collected using focus groups were analyzed using qualitative latent content analysis. Results: Three themes were revealed: Exciting and enjoyable exploration, dangers and disadvantages, and cooperation conquers competition. The first centers around present and possible future aspects of Pokémon GO that promote physical activity. The second focuses on unwanted aspects and specific threats to safety when playing the game. The third shows that cooperation and togetherness is highly valued by the participants and that competition is fun but less important. Conclusions: Components from Pokémon GO might enhance the efficacy of physical activity interventions. Cooperation and exploration are aspects of the game that preferable could be transferred into interventions aiming at promoting children’s physical activity.

  • Lessons learned from the use of a participatory design process to develop digital games addressing airway clearance therapy in children with cystic fibrosis

    Date Submitted: Sep 14, 2017

    Open Peer Review Period: Sep 16, 2017 - Nov 11, 2017

    Worldwide, between 70,000 to 100,000 individuals are affected with cystic fibrosis. From early childhood, children affected do respiratory exercices to release the mucus stuck in their lungs. This ca...

    Worldwide, between 70,000 to 100,000 individuals are affected with cystic fibrosis. From early childhood, children affected do respiratory exercices to release the mucus stuck in their lungs. This can require many hours daily. Games for health and connected sensors that transform the breath into a signal offer promising avennues to make the treatment more fun. Since 2014, the collective Breathing Games has mobilized game designers, software developers, visual artists, sound composers, children affected and their parents, pulmonologists, and physiotherapists to collectively create prototypes of digital games about cystic fibrosis. These prototypes are released under copyfair licenses so that everyone can build upon them. We present the lessons learned from six game prototypes created through a participatory design process, emphasizing on their strengths and limits. We link this practical experience to a review of litterature about key elements to be included in the design of games for health. The article may benefit researchers and professionals interested in games for health by providing a case study that emerged from the practice, and built a posteriori on scientific methods.

  • Views of indigenous young people about SPARX, a computerized e-mental health program

    Date Submitted: Aug 16, 2017

    Open Peer Review Period: Aug 17, 2017 - Oct 12, 2017

    Background: Globally, depression is a major health issue. This is true for indigenous adolescents, yet there is little research conducted about the efficacy and development of psychological intervent...

    Background: Globally, depression is a major health issue. This is true for indigenous adolescents, yet there is little research conducted about the efficacy and development of psychological interventions for these populations. In New Zealand there is little known about taitamariki (Māori adolescent) opinions regarding the development and effectiveness of psychological interventions, let alone computerized cognitive behavioural therapy. SPARX is a computerized intervention developed in New Zealand to treat mild to moderate depression in young people. It was designed to appeal to all young people in New Zealand, and incorporates a number of images and concepts that are specifically Māori. Objective: To conduct an exploratory qualitative study of Māori adolescents’ opinions about the SPARX program. This is a follow-up to an earlier study where taitamariki opinions’ were gathered to inform the design of a computerized cognitive behaviour therapy (cCBT) program. Methods: Taitamariki were interviewed using a semi-structured interview once they had completed work the SPARX resource. Six participants agreed to complete the interview; these interviews ranged from 10 to 30 minutes. Results: Taitamariki participating in the interviews found SPARX to be helpful. The Māori designs were appropriate and useful, and the ability to customize the SPARX characters with Māori designs was beneficial and appeared to enhance cultural identity. These helped young people to feel engaged with SPARX which, in turn, assisted with the acquisition of relaxation and cognitive restructuring skills. Overall using SPARX led to improved mood and increased tlevels of hope for the participants. In some instances, SPARX was used by wider whānau (Māori word for family) members with reported good effect. Conclusions: Overall, this small group of taitamariki reported that cultural designs made it easier for them to engage with SPARX, which, in turn, led to an improvement in their mood and gave them hope. Further research is needed about how SPARX could be best used to support the families of taitamariki. Clinical Trial: Ethics approval was granted by the Northern Regional Y committee (NTY/09/01/003) of the New Zealand Ministry of Health.