Novel Approaches to Obesity Prevention

Effects of Game Enjoyment and Game Type on Energy Expenditure in Active Video Games

Active video games can involve players in moderate to vigorous physical activity.  This study compared Wii Fit active games that are exercise-themed (such as a game designed for jogging) versus those that are entertainment-themed and use physical exertion as the interface to the game (such as a hula hoop game). Two exercise-themed games (one for aerobic activity and one for balance) and two entertainment-themed games (one for aerobic activity and one for balance) were used in the study.  Young adults played these games and their energy expenditure and enjoyment levels for each game were measured.

Key Findings:

  • The exercise-themed games produced greater energy expenditure than the entertainment-themed games.
  • The entertainment-themed games were more enjoyable than the exercise-themed games.

This research, conducted with support from the Health Games Research national program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, suggests that exercise-themed active video games may be more effective for people who are highly motivated to exercise already, while video games that promote exercise through entertainment, without calling attention to the exercise components, may be more enjoyable and attractive to people who are not highly motivated to exercise.