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Journal Description

JMIR Serious Games (JSG, ISSN 2291-9279; Impact Factor: 3.351) is a multidisciplinary journal devoted to computer/web/virtual reality/mobile applications that incorporate elements of gaming, gamification or novel hardware platforms such as virtual reality headsets or Microsoft Kinect to solve serious problems such as health behavior change, physical exercise promotion (exergaming), medical rehabilitation, diagnosis and treatment of psychological/psychiatric disorders, medical education, health 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.

The journal is indexed in PubMed, PubMed Central, DOAJ, and SCIE/Web of Science, and JCR (Journal Citation Reports) where it received an official impact factor by Clarivate. In June 2019, JSG received an impact factor of 3.351, ranking JSG at the top of all gaming-related academic journals, ahead of (for example) more established competitor journals such as the Games for Health Journal. 


Recent Articles:

  • Anthropomorphized characters in the MEDSMAR<sub>x</sub>T game. Source: Figure 2 from; Copyright: the authors; License: Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY).

    Developing a Theory-Driven Serious Game to Promote Prescription Opioid Safety Among Adolescents: Mixed Methods Study


    Background: Adolescents in North America are severely affected by the opioid crisis, yet there are limited educational resources for educating teens about prescription opioid safety and misuse. Empirical literature lacks evidence regarding teen education about prescription opioid safety through serious games and lacks conceptual models and frameworks to guide the process of game development for this purpose. Objective: This study aims to conceptualize and design a serious game prototype to teach teens about prescription opioid safety and propose a conceptual framework for developing a serious game to educate youth about safe and responsible use of prescription opioids. Methods: The initial steps of the project comprised of the formulation of an integrated conceptual framework that included factors from health behavior models and game development models. This was followed by the formal process of serious game development, which resulted in a game prototype. The assessment of the game prototype was done through group discussions, individual interviews, and questionnaires with adolescents following gameplay. Field notes were used to keep track of the responses from the group discussions. Content and thematic analyses were used to analyze field notes and responses to the open-ended questionnaire, which were then used to refine the game prototype. Results: A total of 10 playtests with over 319 adolescents and emerging young adults (AYAs) in community settings such as middle schools, high schools, and colleges were conducted by the project team between March and June 2019. The AYAs provided feedback on the initial game prototype using questionnaires administered through Qualtrics or in-person on paper. Preliminary feedback suggested that the teens found the game objectives, outcomes, and design appealing. Overall, the game was perceived as realistic, and learning outcomes seemed achievable. Suggestions for improvement included the need for additional direction on gameplay, clearer instructions, concise dialog, and reduced technical problems in the gameplay. Conclusions: We propose a conceptual framework for developing a serious game prototype to educate youth about prescription opioid safety. The project used a theory-driven conceptual framework for the development of a serious game targeting the prevention of adolescent opioid misuse and garnered preliminary feedback on the game to improve the quality of gameplay and the prototype. Feedback through informal assessments in community settings suggests that the youth and their families are interested in a game-based approach to learn about prescription opioid safety in homes and schools. The next steps include modifications to the game prototype based on feedback from the community, integration of learning analytics to track the in-game behaviors of players, and formal testing of the final prototype.

  • Untitled. Source: Freepik; Copyright: freepik; URL:; License: Licensed by JMIR.

    Effectiveness of Exergaming in Improving Cognitive and Physical Function in People With Mild Cognitive Impairment or Dementia: Systematic Review


    Background: Individuals with mild cognitive impairment and dementia have impaired physical and cognitive functions, leading to a reduced quality of life compared with those without such impairment. Exergaming, which is defined as a combination of exercise and gaming, is an innovative, fun, and relatively safe way to exercise in a virtual reality or gaming environment. Therefore, exergaming may help people living with mild cognitive impairment or dementia to overcome obstacles that they may experience regarding regular exercise and activities. Objective: The aim of this systematic review was to review studies on exergaming interventions administered to elderly individuals with mild cognitive impairment and dementia, and to summarize the results related to physical and cognitive functions such as balance, gait, executive function, and episodic memory. Methods: We searched Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL), Medline, Embase, PsycINFO, Amed, and Nursing Database for articles published from the inception of the respective databases to January 2019. We included all clinical trials of exergaming interventions in individuals with mild cognitive impairment and dementia for review. The risk of bias was independently evaluated by two reviewers using the Cochrane Collaboration and Risk of Bias in Non-randomized Studies of Interventions tools. Results: Ten studies involving 702 participants were included for review. There was consistent evidence from 7 studies with a low risk of bias showing statistically significant effects of exergaming on cognitive functioning in people with mild cognitive impairment and dementia. With respect to physical function, 3 of 5 full-scale studies found positive results, and the intensity of most games was classified as moderate. Conclusions: Overall, exergaming is an innovative tool for improving physical and cognitive function in people with mild cognitive impairment or dementia, although there is high heterogeneity among studies in terms of the duration, frequency, and gaming platform used. The quality of the included articles was moderate to high. More high-quality studies with more accurate outcome indicators are needed for further exploration and validation of the benefits of exergaming for this population.

  • Source: Pexels; Copyright: Jaroslav Nymburský; URL:; License: Licensed by the authors.

    Controlling for Placebo Effects in Computerized Cognitive Training Studies With Healthy Older Adults From 2016-2018: Systematic Review

    Authors List:


    Background: Computerized cognitive training has been proposed as a potential solution to age-related cognitive decline. However, published findings from evaluation studies of cognitive training games, including metastudies and systematic reviews, provide evidence both for and against transferability from trained tasks to untrained cognitive ability. There continues to be no consensus on this issue from the scientific community. Some researchers have proposed that the number of results supporting the efficacy of cognitive training may be inflated due to placebo effects. It has been suggested that placebo effects need to be better controlled by using an active control and measuring participant expectations for improvement in outcome measures. Objective: This review examined placebo control methodology for recent evaluation studies of computerized cognitive training programs with older adult subjects, specifically looking for the use of an active control and measurement of expectations. Methods: Data were extracted from PubMed. Evaluation studies of computerized cognitive training with older adult subjects (age ≥50 years) published between 2016 and 2018 were included. Methods sections of studies were searched for (1) control type (active or passive) and subtype (active: active-ingredient or similar-form; passive: no-contact or passive-task); (2) if expectations were measured, how were they measured, and whether they were used in analysis; and (3) whether researchers acknowledged a lack of active control and lack of expectation measurement as limitations (where appropriate). Results: Of the 19 eligible studies, 4 (21%) measured expectations, and 9 (47%) included an active control condition, all of which were of the similar-form type. The majority of the studies (10/19, 53%) used only a passive control. Of the 9 studies that found results supporting the efficacy of cognitive training, 5 were for far transfer effects. Regarding the limitations, due to practical considerations, the search was limited to one source (PubMed) and to search results only. The search terms may have been too restrictive. Recruitment methods were not analyzed, although this aspect of research may play a critical role in systematically forming groups with different expectations for improvement. The population was limited to healthy older adults, while evaluation studies include other populations and cognitive training types, which may exhibit better or worse placebo control than the studies examined in this review. Conclusions: Poor placebo control was present in 47% (9/19) of the reviewed studies; however, the studies still published results supporting the effectiveness of cognitive training programs. Of these positive results, 5 were for far transfer effects, which form the basis for broad claims by cognitive training game makers about the scientific validity of their product. For a minimum level of placebo control, future evaluation studies should use a similar-form active control and administer a questionnaire to participants at the end of the training period about their own perceptions of improvement. Researchers are encouraged to think of more methods for the valid measure of expectations at other time points in the training.

  • Source: FlickR; Copyright: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center; URL:; License: Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY).

    Virtual Reality Games and the Role of Body Involvement in Enhancing Positive Emotions and Decreasing Anxiety: Within-Subjects Pilot Study


    Background: In the last few years, the introduction of immersive technologies, especially virtual reality, into the gaming market has dramatically altered the traditional concept of video games. Given the unique features of virtual reality in terms of interaction and its ability to completely immerse the individual into the game, this technology should increase the propensity for video games to effectively elicit positive emotions and decrease negative emotions and anxiety in the players. However, to date, few studies have investigated the ability of virtual reality games to induce positive emotions, and the possible effect of this new type of video game in diminishing negative emotions and anxiety has not yet been tested. Furthermore, given the critical role of body movement in individuals’ well-being and in emotional responses to video games, it seems critical to investigate how body involvement can be exploited to modulate the psychological benefits of virtual reality games in terms of enhancing players’ positive emotions and decreasing negative emotions and anxiety. Objective: This within-subjects study aimed to explore the ability of commercial virtual reality games to induce positive emotions and diminish negative emotions and state anxiety of the players, investigating the effects of the level of body involvement requested by the game (ie, high vs low). Methods: A total of 36 young adults played a low body-involvement (ie, Fruit Ninja VR) and a high body-involvement (ie, Audioshield) video game in virtual reality. The Visual Analogue Scale (VAS) and the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory, Form-Y1 (STAI-Y1) were used to assess positive and negative emotions and state anxiety. Results: Results of the generalized linear model (GLM) for repeated-measures multivariate analysis of variance (MANOVA) revealed a statistically significant increase in the intensity of happiness (P<.001) and surprise (P=.003) and, in parallel, a significant decrease in fear (P=.01) and sadness (P<.001) reported by the users. Regarding the ability to improve anxiety in the players, the results showed a significant decrease in perceived state anxiety after game play, assessed with both the STAI-Y1 (P=.003) and the VAS-anxiety (P=.002). Finally, the results of the GLM MANOVA showed a greater efficacy of the high body-involvement game (ie, Audioshield) compared to the low body-involvement game (ie, Fruit Ninja VR), both for eliciting positive emotions (happiness, P<.001; and surprise, P=.01) and in reducing negative emotions (fear, P=.05; and sadness, P=.05) and state anxiety, as measured by the STAI-Y1 (P=.05). Conclusions: The two main principal findings of this study are as follows: (1) virtual reality video games appear to be effective tools to elicit positive emotions and to decrease negative emotions and state anxiety in individuals and (2) the level of body involvement of the virtual video game has an important effect in determining the ability of the game to improve positive emotions and decrease negative emotions and state anxiety of the players.

  • Source: Freepik; Copyright: freepik; URL:; License: Licensed by JMIR.

    Development and Validation of the Reasons to Exergame (RTEX) Scale in Young Adults: Exploratory Factors Analysis


    Background: Exergaming is associated with positive health benefits; however, little is known about what motivates young people to exergame. Objective: This study aimed to develop a new Reasons to Exergame (RTEX) scale and describe its psychometric properties (Study 1) including test-retest reliability (Study 2). We also examined the test-retest reliability of self-report exergaming behavior measures (Study 2). Methods: We identified scale items in consultation with experts. In Study 1, we conducted an Exploratory Factor Analysis of RTEX and examined how the factors identified relate to exergaming frequency and intensity in a population-based sample of 272 young adults. In Study 2, we examined the test-retest reliability of RTEX factors and self-report measures of past-week exergaming frequency and intensity among 147 college students. Results: We identified four factors in RTEX: exergaming for fitness, exergaming for enjoyment, preferring exergaming over other gaming options, and choosing exergaming over competing interests (eg, sports). Test-retest reliability of RTEX factors (ICC 0.7-0.8) and self-report exergaming frequency (ICC 0.4-0.9) was adequate. Exergaming for fitness and enjoyment were positively associated with the frequency of exergaming with friends and family, and with exergaming intensity. Preferring exergaming over other gaming options and choosing exergaming over competing interests (eg, sports) were not related to exergaming behavior. Conclusions: RTEX is a psychometrically sound scale with four factors that measure reasons to exergame. Replication of these findings is needed in larger, more diverse samples.

  • Source: freepik; Copyright: wavebreakmedia; URL:; License: Licensed by JMIR.

    Effect of Pokémon Go on Self-Harm Using Population-Based Interrupted Time-Series Analysis: Quasi-Experimental Study


    Background: Pokémon Go is a very popular location-based augmented reality game with widespread influences over the world. An emerging body of research demonstrates that playing Pokémon Go can lead to improvements in physical activity and psychosocial well-being; however, whether Pokémon Go reduces self-harm incidence at the population-level is still questionable. Objective: This study aimed to quantify how the launch of Pokémon Go in Hong Kong affected the incidence of self-harm using a quasi-experimental design. Methods: An interrupted time-series design with Poisson segmented regression adjusted for time and seasonality trends was used on data from 2012 to 2018 to detect any changes in the number of accident and emergency attendances due to self-harm, after Pokémon Go was launched. The findings were validated using a baseline control period and using other intentional injuries and minor noninjuries as control outcomes. We also assessed intervention effects by age group. Results: From January 1, 2012 to July 31, 2018, there were 13,463 accident and emergency attendances due to self-harm in Hong Kong. During the period after launching Pokémon Go, self-harm attendances dropped by 34% (adjusted incidence rate ratio: 0.66, 95% CI 0.61-0.73). When analyzed by age group, a reduction in self-harm incidence was only apparent in adults (18 to 24 years of age: adjusted incidence rate ratio: 0.78, P=.02; 25 to 39 years of age: adjusted incidence rate ratio: 0.75, P<.001; 40 years of age and older: adjusted incidence rate ratio: 0.57, P<.001). Conclusions: Self-harm incidence in the population, particularly in adults, showed a significant decline in the period after Pokémon Go was launched. Augmented reality games such as Pokémon Go show great promise as a tool to enhance psychosocial well-being and improve mental health.

  • Source: Louis Brisset/Geneva University Hospitals; Copyright: Geneva University Hospitals; URL:; License: Creative Commons Attribution + NoDerivatives (CC-BY-ND).

    Teaching Adequate Prehospital Use of Personal Protective Equipment During the COVID-19 Pandemic: Development of a Gamified e-Learning Module


    Background: The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic has led to increased use of personal protective equipment (PPE). Adequate use of this equipment is more critical than ever because the risk of shortages must be balanced against the need to effectively protect health care workers, including prehospital personnel. Specific training is therefore necessary; however, the need for social distancing has markedly disrupted the delivery of continuing education courses. Electronic learning (e-learning) may provide significant advantages because it requires neither the physical presence of learners nor the repetitive use of equipment for demonstration. Objective: Inclusion of game mechanics, or “gamification,” has been shown to increase knowledge and skill acquisition. The objective of this research was to develop a gamified e-learning module to interactively deliver concepts and information regarding the correct choice and handling of PPE. Methods: The SERES framework was used to define and describe the development process, including scientific and design foundations. After we defined the target audience and learning objectives by interviewing the stakeholders, we searched the scientific literature to establish relevant theoretical bases. The learning contents were validated by infection control and prehospital experts. Learning mechanics were then determined according to the learning objectives, and the content that could benefit from the inclusion of game mechanics was identified. Results: The literature search resulted in the selection and inclusion of 12 articles. In addition to gamification, pretesting, feedback, avoiding content skipping, and demonstrations using embedded videos were used as learning mechanics. Gamification was used to enhance the interactivity of the PPE donning and doffing sequences, which presented the greatest learning challenges. The module was developed with Articulate Storyline 3 to ensure that it would be compatible with a wide array of devices, as this software generates HTML5-compatible output that can be accessed on smartphones, tablets, and regular computers as long as a recent browser is available. Conclusions: A gamified e-learning module designed to promote better knowledge and understanding of PPE use among prehospital health care workers was created by following the SERES framework. The impact of this module should now be assessed by means of a randomized controlled trial.

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

    Age-Associated Capacity to Progress When Playing Cognitive Mobile Games: Ecological Retrospective Observational Study


    Background: The decline of cognitive function is an important issue related to aging. Over the last few years, numerous mobile apps have been developed to challenge the brain with cognitive exercises; however, little is currently known about how age influences capacity for performance improvement when playing cognitive mobile games. Objective: The objective of this study was to analyze the score data of cognitive mobile games over a period of 100 gaming sessions to determine age-related learning ability for new cognitive tasks by measuring the level of score improvement achieved by participants of different ages. Methods: Scores from 9000 individuals of different ages for 7 cognitive mobile games over 100 gaming sessions were analyzed. Scores from the first session were compared between age groups using one-way analysis of variance. Mixed models were subsequently used to investigate the progression of scores over 100 sessions. Results: Statistically significant differences were found between age groups for the initial scores of 6 of the 7 games (linear trend, P<.001). Cognitive mobile game scores increased for all participants (P<.001) suggesting that all participants were able to improve their performance. The rate of improvement was, however, strongly influenced by the age of the participant with slower progression for older participants (P<.001). Conclusions: This study provides evidence to support two interesting insights—cognitive mobile game scores appear to be sensitive to the changes in cognitive ability that occur with advancing age; therefore, these games could be a convenient way to monitor cognitive function over long-term follow-up, and users who train with the cognitive mobile games improve regardless of age.

  • Source: The Authors/ Placeit; Copyright: Ali Cowley/ Placeit; URL:; License: Licensed by JMIR.

    Gamifying Parenting Education Using an App Developed for Pacific and Other New Zealand Families (Play Kindly): Qualitative Study


    Background: Play Kindly is a gamified animated app designed to address common behavioral problems in childhood. The interface is designed to appeal to Pacific people, a population group with a higher risk of developing clinically significant behavioral problems than most other ethnic groups in New Zealand. Objective: The aim of this study is to explore the opinions of parents and professionals about the acceptability, usability, and content of Play Kindly. Methods: We used qualitative and Pacific and Māori research methodologies. A total of five focus groups with 45 parents and 12 individual interviews with professionals were conducted. The five focus groups consisted of 2 pan-Pacific groups, 1 Māori group, 1 open group, and 1 group of young Pacific adults or prospective parents. The professionals were from a range of disciplines, and the majority had expertise in early childhood, parenting interventions, or research in this field. Results: Play Kindly appealed to both parents and professionals. Participants related to the scenarios, which were created in collaboration with a playwright and animator. Although most participants liked the Pacific feel, there was some disagreement about how culturally specific the app should be. A range of issues with usability and gamification techniques were highlighted, likely attributed to the low budget and lack of initial co-design with parents as well as professionals with specific expertise in parenting. A number of parents and professionals felt that the parenting strategies were overly simplified and did not take into account the context in which the behavior occurred. Professionals suggested narrowing the focus of the app to deliver two important parenting messages: playing with your child and positively reinforcing desired behaviors. Conclusions: Play Kindly is the first culturally adapted parenting app of its kind designed for Pacific parents and other New Zealanders with children 2-5 years of age. This app has potential in Pacific communities where there are limited culturally specific parenting resources. The results of this study will guide improvements of the app prior to testing it in an open trial.

  • Source: The Authors; Copyright: Christina Holzapfel; URL:; License: Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY).

    Serious Games for Nutritional Education: Online Survey on Preferences, Motives, and Behaviors Among Young Adults at University


    Background: Data on nutritional information and digital gameplay are limited among young adults in Germany. Objective: This survey aimed to gather data on nutritional information sources and digital games for nutritional education (preferences, motives, and behaviors) among young adults at both Munich universities in Germany. Methods: An online survey was developed by an multidisciplinary research group using EvaSys, an in-house survey software. The questionnaire (47 items) covered questions about baseline characteristics (eg, housing situation and weight), nutrition (eg, nutritional information sources), and digital (nutritional) gameplay (eg, preferences, motives, and behaviors). A feedback field was also provided. This publication is based on a selection of 20 questions (7 baseline characteristics, 2 nutrition, 11 gameplay). Young adults, primarily Munich university students aged from 18 to 24 years, were invited to participate by digital and nondigital communication channels between 2016 and 2017. Statistical analyses were performed using Excel 2013 (Microsoft Corp) and R version 3.1.3 (R Foundation for Statistical Computing). Results: In total, 468 young adults (342/468, 73.1% women; 379/468, 81.0% university students) participated. Most of the participants (269/468, 57.5%) were aged 18 to 24 years with a BMI in the normal weight range (346/447, 77.4%). Mean body weight was 65.5 [SD 14.0] kg. Most participants reported getting nutritional information from the internet (372/467, 79.7%) and printed media (298/467, 63.8%), less than 1.0% (2/467, 0.4%) named digital games. Apps (100/461, 21.7%) and university/workplace (146/461, 31.7%) were the most desired sources for additional information about nutrition, while 10.0% (46/461, 10.0%) of participants stated wanting digital games. Almost two-thirds (293/468, 62.6%) of participants played digital games, while one-fifth (97/456, 21.3%) played digital games daily using smartphones or tablets. Finally, most respondents (343/468, 73.3%), mainly women, expressed interest in obtaining nutritional information during digital gameplay. However, significant gender differences were shown for nutritional acquisition behaviors and digital gameplay preferences, motives, and behaviors. Conclusions: Our survey population reported playing digital games (especially men) and wanting nutritional information during digital gameplay (especially women). Furthermore, university or workplace are named as preferred settings for nutritional information. Therefore, a digital game app might have the potential to be a tool for nutritional education among young adults within the university or workplace environment.

  • Source: The Authors/Placeit; Copyright: The Authors/Placeit; URL:; License: Licensed by JMIR.

    Development and Preliminary Usability Evaluation of a Somatosensory Square Dance System for Older Chinese Persons: Mixed Methods Study


    Background: Chinese square dancing, known as guangchang wu in Chinese, is a well-known public fitness activity that provides an entertaining way for older Chinese women to improve their flexibility, lower extremity strength, overall coordination, and balance. However, injuries, noise conflicts, and lack of space are challenging aspects of this activity. Somatosensory games (SG) are an increasingly popular physical fitness approach to enhance the selective attention of older persons with indoor engagement and exercises. Objective: The objectives of this study were to develop a newly designed somatosensory square dance system for older Chinese people and to evaluate its usability. Methods: This is a mixed methods study. The newly designed somatosensory square dance system is a somatic training tool that provides adequate Chinese square dance fitness training based on Laban Movement Analysis (LMA) and design guidelines established in a previous stage. The usability evaluation involved a questionnaire and interviews. Twelve participants were interviewed before and after experiencing the 15-minute dancing and learning process within the program. In addition, participants scored their experience satisfaction in psychological, physiological, and relaxation sections on a scale of 1 to 5 using a questionnaire. Qualitative content analysis and quantitative analysis of the satisfaction scores supported understanding of usability problems. Results: Based on the interview results, 6/12 (50%) of the participants thought the system could help them correct their dancing movements indoors without being affected by poor outdoor weather. Among the participants, 3/12 (25%) indicated that this indoor system could enable them to enjoy fitness activities in a private space. Moreover, 3/12 participants (25%) stated that this system could promote family relationships by providing easy dancing movements. All participants were highly satisfied with the relaxation aspect of the system (4.45/5). The participants were all psychologically satisfied and interested in the novel features of the system, with an average score of 4.16/5. Physiologically, participants affirmed that the system could help them maintain good health (4.91/5). Conclusions: The results of this study suggest that the somatosensory square dance system can be used as an indoor fitness tool to improve older Chinese square dancers’ health conditions with reasonable dance training. Noise and space conflicts can be addressed. The Laban Elated Square Dance system, which was modified by therapists based on LMA and square dance design guidelines, was highly approved by dancers because it decreased the possibility of injuries, falls, and joint damage by considering the physical and psychological difficulties of older persons. Different features will be considered in the next stage, such as greater selection of exercises and difficulty level settings. Users’ social needs will also be explored in subsequent stages.

  • People playing Pokémon GO at night. Source: Flickr; Copyright: Maurice Weststrate; URL:; License: Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY).

    Exploring Features of the Pervasive Game Pokémon GO That Enable Behavior Change: Qualitative Study


    Background: Digital gaming is one of the most popular forms of entertainment in the world. While prior literature concluded that digital games can enable changes in players’ behaviors, there is limited knowledge about different types of behavior changes and the game features driving them. Understanding behavior changes and the game features behind them is important because digital games can motivate players to change their behavior for the better (or worse). Objective: This study investigates the types of behavior changes and their underlying game features within the context of the popular pervasive game Pokémon GO. Methods: We collected data from 262 respondents with a critical incident technique (CIT) questionnaire. We analyzed the responses with applied thematic analysis with ATLAS.ti (ATLAS.ti Scientific Software Development GmbH) software. Results: We discovered 8 types of behavior changes and 13 game features relevant to those behavior changes. The behavior changes included added activity in life, enhancing routines, exploration, increased physical activity, strengthening social bonds, lowering social barriers, increased positive emotional expression and self-treatment. The game features included reaching a higher level, catching new Pokémon, evolving new Pokémon, visiting PokéStops, exploring PokéStops, hatching eggs, fighting in gyms, collaborative fighting, exploiting special events, finding specific Pokémon, using items, Pokémon theme, and game location tied to physical location. The behavior changes were connected to specific game features, with game location tied to physical location and catching new Pokémon being the most common and connected to all behavior changes. Conclusions: Our findings indicate that the surveyed players changed their behaviors while or after playing Pokémon GO. The respondents reported being more social, expressed more positive emotions, found more meaningfulness in their routines, and had increased motivation to explore their surroundings.

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  • Game and Pupillometry Data for Cognitive Load Measurement: Classifying Cognitive Load of Educational Video Game Levels

    Date Submitted: Jun 19, 2020

    Open Peer Review Period: Jun 19, 2020 - Aug 14, 2020

    Background: Besides the current challenge, the perceived difficulty level of a learning task depends on the student's previous knowledge and skills. When a learning task is recurrently perceived as ea...

    Background: Besides the current challenge, the perceived difficulty level of a learning task depends on the student's previous knowledge and skills. When a learning task is recurrently perceived as easy (or hard), it may cause poor learning results. Gamer data such as errors, attempts, or time to finish a challenge are widely used to estimate the perceived difficulty level. In other contexts, pupillometry is widely used to measure the cognitive load (mental effort); hence, this may describe the perceived task difficulty. Objective: Objective: This study aimed to assess the use of pupillary data as a cognitive load measure for describing the difficulty levels in a video game. Also, it proposes an image filter to better estimate the baseline pupil size and to reduce the screen luminescence effect. Methods: We conducted an experiment that compares the baseline estimated from our filter against that estimated from common approaches. Different pupil features were used to classify the difficulty of a dataset containing information from students playing a video game for practicing math fractions. Results: Results: Results showed that the proposed filter allows to better estimate a baseline, Mauchly’s Test of Sphericity indicated that the assumption of sphericity had been violated, χ2(14) =0.045389, p = .001; and therefore, a Greenhouse-Geisser correction was used, ε = 0.47, there was a significant difference against Mean Pupil Diameter Change (MPDC) estimated from different baseline images with the scramble filter, F(2.35) = 30.965, p < .001. Moreover, according to the Wilcoxon signed-rank test, pupillary features that better describe the difficulty level were MPDC (Z = -2.15, p <0.05) and Peak Dilation (Z = -3.58, p<0.00); a random forest classifier for easy- and hard-level of difficult showed an accuracy of 75% when the gamer data is used, but the accuracy increases to 87.5 % by including pupillary measurements. Conclusions: The screen luminescent effect on pupil size was reduced with a scrambled filter on the background video game image. Finally, pupillary data can improve the classifier accuracy of the perceived difficulty of gamers in educational video games.