Assessing Motivational Differences Between Young and Older Adults When Playing an Exergame
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Original versionGames for Health Journal. 2019, 9 (1), . 10.1089/g4h.2019.0082
Background: Currently, exergames are used by different age groups for both recreational and training/rehabilitation purposes. However, little is known about how to design exergames so that they are motivating for specific age groups and health outcomes. Objective: In this article, we compare motivational factors between healthy young and older adults by analyzing their assessments of the same balance training exergame. Materials and Methods: We performed a laboratory-based assessment of a custom-made balance training exergame with 12 healthy young and 10 healthy older adults. Their answers to a semistructured text input questionnaire were analyzed qualitatively. Results: Both age groups were motivated by a combination of intrinsic and extrinsic motivational factors. We found that the young adults tended to be motivated by the game challenge and the in-game reward system (scores). In contrast, the older adults were more motivated by the perceived health effects (both physical and cognitive) and the joy of playing, with less regard for the in-game rewards. Conclusion: The differences in motivational factors that were identified between young and older adults have several design implications. For older adults less effort can be put on designing the in-game reward system and more on showing the player the potential health effects of their play. Furthermore, the competition aspect can be downplayed and more focus placed on simply making the gaming experience itself as joyful as possible.