Exergames for Youth with Cerebral Palsy: Designing for Gameplay and Social Accessibility
Hernandez Alvarado, Hamilton Andres
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Youth with cerebral palsy (CP) have limitations in physical abilities that make it difficult for them to participate in traditional physical activity and social interaction. Exergames, video games combined with physical activity, represent a promising approach to allow youth with CP to participate in physical activity while socializing with others. However, commercial exergames present challenges to accessibility that can be difficult to overcome for youth with CP. One way of addressing these problems is by designing exergames considering the physical abilities and limitations of this population, providing methods and interfaces to interact with the game that are easy for them to use. This research provides insights into how to design exergames that youth with CP can play, enjoy, and use effectively to socially communicate and interact with peers. To approach this challenge, a year-long participatory iterative design process was followed, involving medical professionals, game designers, computer scientists, kinesiologists, physical therapists, and youth with CP. The result of this process was a set of guidelines for the design of gameplay that is accessible for youth with CP, a set of guidelines to provide social accessibility in online games for youth with CP and an online exergame implementing these guidelines. The game was evaluated over two home-based studies with youth with CP. The first study focused on the evaluation of the playability of the game over eight weeks. The second study focused on the evaluation of the game’s effectiveness as a platform for social interaction for youth with CP over ten weeks. Results from both studies show that the games built following the guidelines were indeed playable, enjoyable and effective at allowing and promoting social interaction.