Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Social gaming promotes healthy behavior, reveals new research

Date:
April 18, 2013
Source:
University of Southern California
Summary:
Adding social gaming elements to a behavior tracking program led people to exercise more frequently and helped them decrease their body-mass index, according to new research.

Adding social gaming elements to a behavior tracking program led people to exercise more frequently and helped them decrease their body-mass index, according to new research from the USC School of Cinematic Arts, the Keck School of Medicine of USC, the USC School of Social Work and the University at Buffalo, SUNY.

The project was funded by a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's Pioneer Portfolio through its national program, Health Games Research. The results suggests that "gamification" may improve the effectiveness of traditional health interventions for motivating behavior change and can lead to better health outcomes.

For the ten-week program, researchers studied young and middle-aged adults across a range of lifestyles, from sedentary to very active. Study participants invited someone they knew, usually friends or family members, to participate with them.

One group of participants was randomly assigned to keep an online diary of physical activity, a commonly used strategy for activity adherence and weight management. The diary is part of Wellness Partners, a program developed at USC to explore the role of socially networked games in encouraging lifestyle changes.

A second group was asked to keep a version of the Wellness Partners diary that included social gaming such as earning points for their exercise reporting, redeeming them for animated activities performed by their virtual character, collecting memories and earning gifts they shared with other participants in their network. After five weeks, the groups switched programs.

The results revealed that a combination of the diary and social gaming helped the participants exercise more frequently, leading to decreased body-mass index, a strong wellness indicator. The effects were stronger in the groups that started with gaming and were sustained after gaming elements were removed.

"A big part of its success is that this program required the engagement of friends and family in tracking open-ended health goals," said lead researcher Marientina Gotsis, director of the Creative Media & Behavioral Health Center at USC. "We wanted to see how different people would react to it and the results demonstrate that there is great potential in using even casual digital games to promote healthy lifestyles."

"The game itself was designed to inspire wellness through participation in outdoor activities. We featured the virtual character participating in activities like going snorkeling, playing in the park, raking a zen garden and many other ideas that could increase physical activity," she added.

Participants who started with either version of the Wellness Partners program had modest, but statistically significant increases in self-reported physical activity, especially those who started with the version containing social gaming.

Participants also had decreases in body mass index at first follow-up compared to baseline (-0.19). The effects were larger for those who started with the version that contained social gaming elements (-0.26). Interestingly, body mass index did not change at the ten-week mark, which suggests participants sustained the benefits of the Wellness Partners program.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Southern California. The original article was written by Suzanne Wu. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Marientina Gotsis, Hua Wang, Donna Spruijt-Metz, Maryalice Jordan-Marsh, Thomas William Valente. Wellness Partners: Design and Evaluation of a Web-Based Physical Activity Diary with Social Gaming Features for Adults. JMIR Research Protocols, 2013; 2 (1): e10 DOI: 10.2196/resprot.2132

Cite This Page:

University of Southern California. "Social gaming promotes healthy behavior, reveals new research." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 18 April 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130418100154.htm>.
University of Southern California. (2013, April 18). Social gaming promotes healthy behavior, reveals new research. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130418100154.htm
University of Southern California. "Social gaming promotes healthy behavior, reveals new research." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130418100154.htm (accessed October 21, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

How Nigeria Beat Its Ebola Outbreak

How Nigeria Beat Its Ebola Outbreak

Newsy (Oct. 20, 2014) The World Health Organization has declared Nigeria free of Ebola. Health experts credit a bit of luck and the government's initial response. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Another Study Suggests Viagra Is Good For The Heart

Another Study Suggests Viagra Is Good For The Heart

Newsy (Oct. 20, 2014) An ingredient in erectile-dysfunction medications such as Viagra could improve heart function. Perhaps not surprising, given Viagra's history. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ebola Worries End for Dozens on U.S. Watch Lists

Ebola Worries End for Dozens on U.S. Watch Lists

Reuters - US Online Video (Oct. 20, 2014) Forty-three people who had contact with Thomas Eric Duncan, the first person diagnosed with Ebola in the U.S., were cleared overnight of twice-daily monitoring after 21 days of showing no symptoms. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
CDC Calls for New Ebola Safety Guidelines

CDC Calls for New Ebola Safety Guidelines

AP (Oct. 20, 2014) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Tom Frieden laid out new guidelines for health care workers when dealing with the deadly Ebola virus including new precautions when taking off personal protective equipment. (Oct. 20) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins