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JMIR Serious Games. 2019 Nov 21;7(4):e16031. doi: 10.2196/16031.

Using Narrative Game Design to Increase Children's Physical Activity: Exploratory Thematic Analysis.

Author information

1
Health Technology Lab, College of Arts, Media, and Design, Bouvé College of Health Sciences, Northeastern University, Boston, MA, United States.
2
Department of Communication, State University of New York at Buffalo, Buffalo, NY, United States.
3
Children's Nutrition Research Center, Baylor College of Medicine, US Department of Agriculture, Houston, TX, United States.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Physical activity is crucial for child obesity prevention and intervention. Narratives embedded in active games can increase children's physical activity.

OBJECTIVE:

Little is known about the narrative characteristics that would motivate children to exercise. We attempted to fill the gaps in understanding regarding narrative design for active video games.

METHODS:

In this exploratory study, four animated narratives of different genres were professionally generated. Children (N=41) between the ages of 8 and 12 years were interviewed to identify their preferences. Sessions were digitally recorded, transcribed, and analyzed using exploratory thematic analysis.

RESULTS:

Findings revealed that the children rated the dystopian science fiction story as their favorite across all weight, race, and gender groups. The physical activity-friendly narrative strategies included virtuous characters, extraordinary character actions, interesting plots, super powers, and engaging cliffhangers. Alternatively, information not related to physical activity, difficult-to-follow plot lines, passive protagonists, and repetitive narrative tropes were less appealing for physical activity.

CONCLUSIONS:

This research provides preliminary evidence that narratives have characteristics that may increase child physical activity when playing active games. Future empirical studies should verify and test these design principles.

KEYWORDS:

active game; children; narrative; physical activity; thematic analysis

PMID:
31750833
DOI:
10.2196/16031
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