Is Mario the next Richard Simmons? How video games can teach us to improve physical activity interventions.

Sean Marconett, John F. Kennedy University, USA
Sean Fitzpatrick, John F. Kennedy University, USA

Theme: Exercise and health behaviors

Poster Number: 30

Program ID: POS-1

Presentation: October 3, 2013 5:30 pm - 7:00 pm

Room: Napoleon


Self-Determination Theory (SDT) has been well researched as a way to increase motivation (Deci & Ryan, 1985). According to SDT, competence, autonomy, and relatedness represent three psychological constructs that individuals seek out in the pursuits they select. The greater the perceived gains are within these areas the more likely it is that individuals will be self-determined: that is they are more likely to continue the behavior that reaps these rewards (Ryan & Deci, 2000). Both through anecdotal observations/interactions and academic study (e.g. Rigby & Ryan, 2011), the contemporary video game industry seems to grasp these connections and uses the before mentioned psychological constructs within game design to attract players. There has long been a call for theory driven interventions for promoting physical activity (PA; Burg, Oenema & Ferreira, 2005) and interventions that best utilize theory are often more successful than those that do not (Greaves et al, 2011). The need for effective PA interventions is as great as ever given the current trends in the prevalence of overweight and obesity (Flegal et al, 2012). The purpose of this poster presentation is to present how the techniques that successful video game designers utilize can be semi-replicated within exercise intervention design to promote PA adoption and maintenance, key component for weight loss (Franz et al, 2007), weight loss maintenance (Wing & Phelan, 2005) and health (Paffenbarger, Hyde, Wing & Hsieh, 1986). For example, popular in many of the current bestselling video games are the uses of an open environment which encourages non-linear game play (autonomy) and elaborate reward systems (competence). Also, online cooperative gaming (relatedness) has only continued to rise (Ahmad et al, 2012). Though many of these features cannot be replicated completely within PA intervention settings, they can be modified to fit within this domain as well.

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