Publication: Custom-Designed Motion-Based Games for Older Adults: A Review of Literature in Human-Computer Interaction

Many older adults, particularly persons living in senior residences and care homes, lead sedentary lifestyles, which reduces their life expectancy. Motion-based video games encourage physical activity and might be an opportunity for these adults to remain active and engaged; however, research efforts in the field have frequently focused on younger audiences and little is known about the requirements and benefits of motion-based games for elderly players. In this paper, we present an overview of motion-based video games and other interactive technologies for older adults. First, we summarize existing approaches towards the definition of motion-based video games - often referred to as exergames - and suggest a categorization of motion-based applications into active video games, exergames, and augmented sports. Second, we use this scheme to classify case studies addressing design efforts particularly directed towards older adults. Third, we analyze these case studies with a focus on potential target audiences, benefits, challenges in their deployment, and future design opportunities to investigate whether motion-based video games can be applied to encourage physical activity among older adults. In this context, special attention is paid to evaluation routines and their implications regarding the deployment of such games in the daily lives of older adults. The results show that many case studies examine isolated aspects of motion-based game design for older adults, and despite the broad range of issues in motion-based interaction for older adults covered by the sum of all research projects, there appears to be a disconnect between laboratory-based research and the deployment of motion-based video games in the daily lives of senior citizens. Our literature review suggests that despite research results suggesting various benefits of motion-based play for older adults, most work in the field of game design for senior citizens has focused on the implementation of accessible user interfaces, and that little is known about the long-term deployment of video games for this audience, which is a crucial step if these games are to be implemented in activity programs of senior residences, care homes, or in therapy.


Kathrin Gerling
University of Lincoln
Regan Mandryk
University of Saskatchewan


Gerling, K.M., Mandryk, R.L. 2014. Custom-Designed Motion-Based Games for Older Adults: A Review of Literature in Human-Computer Interaction. In Gerontechnology, vol. 12 no. 2, 68-80. DOI=


@article {
author= {Kathrin Gerling and Regan Mandryk},
title= {Custom-Designed Motion-Based Games for Older Adults: A Review of Literature in Human-Computer Interaction},
booktitle= {Gerontechnology},
year= {2014},
volume= {12},
number= {2},
pages= {68-80}