Heart Rate Balancing for Multiplayer Exergames
Stach, Tadeusz Benedict
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Exergames combine physical activity and entertainment in an effort to increase people’s motivation to exercise. Multiplayer exergames attempt to include the motivating aspects of group activity by allowing two or more people to play together. In most multiplayer exergames, a player’s in-game performance is limited by her physical abilities. Less fit players are demotivated by repeated losses to more fit opponents, while fitter players face a lack of competition from unfit opponents. This situation makes it difficult for people of disparate physical abilities to play exergames together. This research presents heart rate balancing, a novel player balancing technique to better support engaging experiences in multiplayer exergames. Heart rate balancing bases players’ in-game performance on their effort relative to fitness level rather than their raw power. More specifically, heart rate monitoring is used to set in-game performance based on how closely a person adheres to her target heart rate. Experiments with heart rate balancing show that the technique improves competition between players. A strong correlation was found between people’s perceived effort and their in-game performance with heart rate balancing. The degree to which players noticed the balancing mechanism varied depending on game type. However, heart rate balancing did not interfere with people’s ability to play exergames. These results indicate that the heart rate balancing technique is a promising approach for improving enjoyment and engagement in multiplayer exergames.