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Games Health J. 2012 Jun;1(3):199-204.

Story Immersion of Videogames for Youth Health Promotion: A Review of Literature.

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School of Communication, Northwestern University , Evanston, Illinois.
USDA/ARS Children's Nutrition Research Center, Baylor College of Medicine , Houston, Texas.
Archimage, Inc. , Houston, Texas.


This article reviews research in the fields of psychology, literature, communication, human-computer interaction, public health, and consumer behavior on narrative and its potential relationships with videogames and story immersion. It also reviews a narrative's role in complementing behavioral change theories and the potential of story immersion for health promotion through videogames. Videogames have potential for health promotion and may be especially promising when attempting to reach youth. An understudied characteristic of videogames is that many contain a narrative, or story. Story immersion (transportation) is a mechanism through which a narrative influences players' cognition, affect, and, potentially, health behavior. Immersion promotes the suspension of disbelief and the reduction of counterarguments, enables the story experience as a personal experience, and creates the player's deep affection for narrative protagonists. Story immersion complements behavioral change theories, including the Theory of Planned Behavior, Social Cognitive Theory, and Self-Determination Theory. Systematic investigations are needed to realize the powerful potential of interactive narratives within theory-driven research.

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