Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Research on the Gateway Effect of Exergames and Active Games

Members of TEN! Hear this interesting request for evidence of the reason for exergaming's existence! I'm talking about the gateway effect! Sadly this request is just for published research and I know we all have a ton of evidence outside of the laboratory from our own experience and the experiences of others, but maybe there is a diamond in the rough you can share with Debra? Take a look and see if you can help! Cheers! Richard

I am looking for research on the Gateway Effect of exergames and active games.  Please post to the list any studies you know of (include the bibliographic reference if you have it) and the names of researchers who are doing this research.  Thanks!

Some of us have seen individual cases where a person who was sedentary, never interested in physical activity, began to play Dance Dance Revolution (DDR) or a Wii or Kinect or other physically demanding game and then began exercising in other ways, for example by:

(1) playing more exergames
(2) working out and tracking their workouts with mobile fitness games and apps
(3) working out or being active (walking, swimming, gardening, etc.) in non-video-game physical activities
(4) participating in casual (pick-up games) or formal (joining a team or league) team sports

Is there research investigating the Gateway Effect to determine whether it does occur as a result of first playing an exergame or active game and, even better, investigating the processes by which it occurs?  For example, exergames and active games may influence the following factors, which may lead the player to engage in more physical activity elsewhere too:

(1) increase the player's physical capabilities, strength, muscle tone, endurance, etc.
(2) improve self-confidence and self-efficacy for exercise
(3) help the player experience and realize that physical activity can be enjoyable to do
(4) enhance physical well-being, improve ease of movement, reduce pain and soreness, etc.
(5) reduce stress, improve mental outlook
(6) lead to much-needed weight loss
(7) connect the player with others socially
(8) lead to more praise and approval from others, and social acceptance, for being active with exergames and active games

Also, is there any research evidence that exergames and active games may have the opposite of a Gateway Effect?  Do they reduce physical activity elsewhere?  For example, exergames and active games may:

(1) displace more vigorous physical activity with moderate physical activity and so people who substitute exergames and active games for their usual workout activities may reduce their physical fitness
(2) cause sore muscles and joints and increase injury through repetitive movements
(3) cause over-exertion, which may make physical activity less enjoyable than it used to be
(4) socially isolate people who no longer play team sports and instead play DDR at home
(5) do the opposite of any of the 8 factors listed above that I suggested may lead to more physical activity, and instead they may lead to less physical activity...and/or the opposite of the processes in the 8 factors may occur (such as increasing stress instead of reducing it)

Thanks in advance for sharing bibliographic references of published studies and the names of researchers who are doing this research.


Debra Lieberman, Ph.D., Director
Health Games Research
University of California, Santa Barbara

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