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Games Health J. 2015 Feb;4(1):63-6. doi: 10.1089/g4h.2014.0123. Epub 2014 Nov 11.

The Yin and Yang of Formative Research in Designing Serious (Exer-)games.

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1 Department of Movement and Sports Sciences, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Ghent University , Ghent, Belgium .
2 Lusophone University of Humanities and Technology Faculty of Physical Education and Sports; and CIPER, Faculty of Human Movement, University of Lisbon , Lisbon, Portugal .
3 USDA/ARS Children's Nutrition Research Center, Department of Pediatrics, Baylor College of Medicine , Houston, Texas.
4 Graduate Program in Public Health, Center for Health Sciences at The Federal University of Santa Catarina , Santa Catarina, Brazil .


Despite its relevance, formative research on games may be an undervalued part of the game development process. At the 2014 International Society of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity exergaming preconference satellite meeting, a roundtable discussion was held to assemble experiences and suggestions on enhancing the use of formative research in the development of active videogames (i.e., exergames). This article presents a summary of the concepts discussed. The discussants concluded that, although formative research may slightly expand the project timeline, the potential benefits include a game more in line with preferences of the intended users, with better operationalized theoretical constructs and broader stakeholder support, facilitating implementation and sustainability. It also improves the efficiency of other research parts because of a lower dropout rate of participants. Formative, qualitative research is thus a necessary complement to quantitative measurements of intervention outcomes, in a sort of Yin and Yang dynamic. An adapted version of formative research that casts a wider net may, however, be needed, involving both behavioral scientists and game developers, expanding the topics beyond the game's looks and soliciting the opinions of a larger group of stakeholders, such as implementers, gatekeepers, and funders.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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