Understanding the exergame user experience : users' motivation, attitude and behaviour in a location-aware pervasive exergame for adolescent children
Macvean, Andrew Peter
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The benefits of physical activity for adolescent children are well understood. Despite this, within much of the Western World, children fail to achieve the recommended guidelines for physical activity participation, spending too much time on sedentary activities. Thanks to recent progressions in ubiquitous technologies, exergames - exercise video games - have emerged as a potential solution to the problem. By facilitating physical activity, and encouraging behavioural change within an enjoyable and motivating context, exergames have the potential to remove some of the barriers preventing many adolescents from sufficient physical activity participation. There are, however, few studies of exergame systems that have looked at the impact of the system over time. Additionally, many systems are not evaluated within ecologically valid contexts. The result of this is a lack of real understanding on the efficacy of exergame systems and their feasibility as a valid solution. This thesis investigates the design, development, and evaluation of a locationaware exergame for adolescent children: iFitQuest. Through analysis of two prolonged use school-based evaluations, this research provides evidence on the ability of exergames to facilitate physical activity and reduce sedentary behaviour, when targeted at adolescent children within a school context. The results of two evaluations suggest that iFitQuest was enjoyable, motivating, and physically demanding, with the ability to promote physical activity of all intensities in players with a range of attitudes towards physical activity, their own physical activity abilities, and physical activity participation backgrounds. The primary contribution of this thesis is the indepth evaluation of the exergame user experience. Looking beyond the general success of the system, the experience of individual players was analysed through the lens of Bandura's theory of self-efficacy. Through a mixed-methods case study analysis, self-efficacy was established as an accurate method to explain and understand in-game behaviour, in particular with respect to goal setting and game selection habits. By influencing and moderating the players' motivation, attitude and in-game behaviour, self-efficacy was established as a useful tool for future exergame practitioners. Guidelines on the application of self-efficacy are provided, with respect to both analysis and design. Additionally, through a naturalistic and prolonged evaluation, a number of logistical and contextual lessons for the evaluation of exergames were established. In particular, the use of a user-centred design approach for the development of similar systems is validated through a series of design guidelines, which account for the importance and influence of the evaluation context.