Project: Gaming for Fitness

Approximately one in two adults in industrialized countries are physically inactive. This lifestyle contributes to dramatically increasing rates of obesity. For example, obesity rates triples among boys and doubled among girls aged 7-13 between 1981 and 1996. These health problems lead to decreased quality of life, as well as dramatic costs to the healthcare system. Video games are, in contrast, a highly popular activity, and are now played in more than 68% of American households. Video games are no longer an activity purely for young males: the average age of players is 35, and 40% of game players are women. The primary goal of this project is to determine whether video gaming can be used to help motivate people to begin and maintain a program of physical activity. While there are an increasing number of commercial products that aim to do exactly this (e.g., Wii Fit, EA Sports Active), relatively little is known about the principles of how to design effective exercise video games. We will address the questions of what design elements in games increase peoples' motivation to become and remain physically active, and of whether these actually provide sufficient exercise to produce health benefits.

In one line of work, we investigate how real-world activities can be effectively integrated into a game. In another, we look at how walking can be used as a primary game mechanic for games aimed at kids and their parents. We also study casual exergames (designed to be played in short bursts a few times per day), educational exergames, exergames for special populations (i.e., the elderly, children with Cerebral Palsy, and children with FASD), and the cognitive benefits of exergames.


Regan Mandryk
University of Saskatchewan
Kevin Stanley
Ian Livingston
Electronic Arts
Yue Gao
University of Saskatchewan
Kathrin Gerling
University of Lincoln
Robert Kapiszka
University of Saskatchewan
Lennart Nacke
University of Ontario Institute of Technology, University of Saskatchewan
Yichen Dang
Eva Anderson


The Acute Cognitive Benefits of Casual Exergame Play
Gao, Y., Mandryk, R. (2012), CHI '12: Proceedings of the 30th international conference on Human factors in computing systems., Austin, Texas, USA. 1863-1872.
Full-Body Motion-Based Game Interaction for Older Adults
Gerling, K., Livingston, I., Nacke, L., Mandryk, R. (2012), CHI '12: Proceedings of the 30th international conference on Human factors in computing systems, Austin, Texas, USA. 1873-1882.
GrabApple: The Design of a Casual Exergame
Gao, Y., Mandryk, R. (2011), The International Conference on Entertainment Computing (ICEC '11), Vancouver, BC, Canada. 35-46. Best Paper Nomination.
Gemini: A Pervasive Accumulated Context Exergame
Stanley, K., Livingston, I., Bandurka, A., Hashemian, M., Mandryk, R. (2011), 10th International Conference on Entertainment Computing (ICEC'11), 65-76.
Hearing is Believing: Evaluating Ambient Audio for Location-Based Games
Kurczak, J., Graham, T., Joly, C., Mandryk, R. (2011), International Conference on Computer Entertainment Technology (ACE 2011), Lisbon, Portugal. Article 32, 8 pages. Best Paper Award (Silver Award).
PiNiZoRo: A GPS-based Exercise Game for Families
Stanley, K., Livingston, I., Bandurka, A., Kapiszka, R., Mandryk, R. (2010), Proceedings of Future Play 2010, Vancouver, Canada. 276-279. <doi:10.1145/1920778.1920817>
Integrating Cumulative Context into Computer Games
Stanley, K., Pinelle, D., Bandurka, A., McDine, D., Mandryk, R. (2008), Proceedings of Future Play 2008, Toronto, Canada. 248-251. <doi:>
Methods for Evaluating Gameplay Experience in a Serious Gaming Context
Nacke, L., Drachen, A., Goebel, S. (2010), International Journal of Computer Science in Sport, vol. 9 no. 2, Darmstadt, Germany.
Gamification: Using Game Design Elements in Non-Gaming Contexts
Deterding, S., Dixon, D., Nacke, L., O'Hara, K., Sicart, M. (2011), Proceedings of the 2011 Annual Conference Extended Abstracts on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI EA'11), Vancouver, BC, Canada. 2425-2428. Workshop, more information at: <doi:10.1145/1979482.1979575>
Did They Really Like the Game? -- Challenges in Evaluating Exergames with Older Adults
Smeddinck, J., Herrlich, M., Krause, M., Gerling, K., Malaka, R. (2012), CHI Workshop on Game User Research: Exploring Methodologies, Austin, Texas, USA.