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Simul Gaming. 2016 Aug;47(4):490-516. Epub 2016 Feb 17.

An educational video game for nutrition of young people: Theory and design.

Author information

1
University of Houston, TX, USA.
2
Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX, USA.
3
University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX, USA.
4
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA, USA.
5
Archimage, Inc., Houston, TX, USA.
6
Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD, USA.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Playing Escape from DIAB (DIAB) and Nanoswarm (NANO), epic video game adventures, increased fruit and vegetable consumption among a multi-ethnic sample of 10-12 year old children during pilot testing. Key elements of both games were educational mini-games embedded in the overall game that promoted knowledge acquisition regarding diet, physical activity and energy balance. 95-100% of participants demonstrated mastery of these mini-games suggesting knowledge acquisition.

AIM:

This article describes the process of designing and developing the educational mini-games. A secondary purpose was to explore the experience of children while playing the games.

METHOD:

The educational games were based on Social Cognitive and Mastery Learning Theories. A multidisciplinary team of behavioral nutrition, PA, and video game experts designed, developed, and tested the mini-games.

RESULTS:

Alpha testing revealed children generally liked the mini-games and found them to be reasonably challenging. Process evaluation data from pilot testing revealed almost all participants completed nearly all educational mini-games in a reasonable amount of time suggesting feasibility of this approach.

CONCLUSIONS:

Future research should continue to explore the use of video games in educating children to achieve healthy behavior changes.

KEYWORDS:

Type II Diabetes; behavioral nutrition; challenge; debriefing; design; diet; energy balance; experience; game design; health; healthy behavior; intervention design; knowledge; mastery learning; mini-game; obesity; physical activity; social cognitive theory; video game

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