Fit for play: developing an adaptive exergame platform to motivate inactive children

Heleen Meijburg (First author), Jef Folkerts, Nick Degens

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingContribution to conference proceedingAcademicpeer-review

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Abstract: Sedentary behaviour in children, four years of age and older, has increased over the last decades. These children become physically less skilled, which demotivates them for regular sports activities. They become susceptible to health risks such as obesity and have a heightened chance to develop depression and a lower self-esteem. Sports professionals acknowledge that these children in time become unable to keep up with the sports education pace, leaving them prone to social exclusion as well.
Exergames seem promising in their potential to increase the amount and quality of physical exercise in this group. Moreover, they offer strategies to motivate children to a more active and healthier lifestyle. However, some issues remain unclear regarding their applicability and individual fittingness. For one thing sports professionals have little to no experience using exergames in physical education, let alone understand which games could be appropriate to structurally activate said children. In addition, existing exergames regularly lack a suitable degree of adaptivity regarding what a child is physically capable of, which psychological needs should be addressed, and to what inactive children find appealing in terms of gameplay.
The aim of our research project is to build a first prototype of an adaptive platform for exergames to motivate inactive children to structurally engage in physical exercise more, and better. The participative design method we used in our preliminary qualitative research led to a better understanding of the barriers to move and the psychological needs children have when it comes to physical exercise. We made a first global list of requirements for the adaptive platform and an overview of necessary design directions.
Future pursuits in this project include a participative design research study amongst both children and sports professionals, and a thorough review of the literature and state of the art knowledge. We will use this knowledge to create a first prototype of an adaptive platform in collaboration with a serious game company and an organisation of sport professionals. After user testing we will use the evaluation findings as a baseline for future measurements regarding the adaptation of suggested exergames and to formalize and disseminate found design guidelines.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe proceedings of the 13th International Conference on Game Based Learning ECGBL 2019
EditorsLars Elbæk, Gunver Majgaard, Andrea Valente, Saifuddin Khalid
Place of PublicationReading, UK
PublisherAcademic Conferences and Publishing International Limited
ISBN (Electronic)978-1-912764-37-2
ISBN (Print)978-1-912764-38-9
Publication statusPublished - 3 Oct 2019


  • exergames
  • inactive children
  • physical activity
  • sports professionals
  • adaptivity
  • gamification
  • motivation
  • behavioural change
  • design research
  • user-centered design


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