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UNC health researchers explore how to take interactive video games to the next level
Date:5/30/2008

CHAPEL HILL The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Public Health has received a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) to explore how interactive digital games could be better designed to improve players' health.

UNC joins 11 other research teams supported in this first round of funding from Health Games Research, an RWJF national program established to strengthen the evidence base related to the development and use of games to achieve desirable health outcomes.

"Research shows that young adults play video games as much as or in some cases more than children do," said Deborah Tate, Ph.D., assistant professor in the School's departments of health behavior and health education and nutrition. "Since young adulthood is a time of decreasing physical activity and rapid weight gain, video games may provide a more active form of leisure than traditional TV for this age group."

Tate and doctoral student Elizabeth Lyons, an avid gamer, will investigate people's motivations to expend energy while playing video games. They will compare traditional video games played on home consoles (such as Playstation 3 or Wii, which use a hand-held or motion-sensing controller) with more active games requiring physical movement beyond pushing buttons or flicking the wrist. These active games require players to use a controller such as a dance pad, balance board or even a guitar.

"The research focuses on presence and intrinsic motivation," Lyons said. "Presence is the perception of actually being in the game environment. Intrinsic motivation is the desire to do something for its own sake and not for a reward. Both presence and intrinsic motivation seem to increase the amount of time players spend with games. But these two factors have never been measured or studied to assess their impact on the amount of energy people will expend when playing an active game or when playing a traditional game."

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Contact: Patric Lane
patric_lane@unc.edu
919-962-8596
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Source:Eurekalert

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