The Use of Nudges in Exergames to Moderate Player Exertion
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Exergames are digital games with a physical exertion component. Exergames can help motivate fitness in people not inclined toward exercise. However, players of exergames sometimes over-exert, risking adverse health effects. These players must be told to slow down, but doing so may distract them from gameplay and diminish their desire to keep exercising. In this thesis we apply the concept of nudges—indirect suggestions that gently push people toward a desired behaviour—to keeping exergame players from over-exerting. We describe the effective use of nudges through a set of four design principles: natural integration, comprehension, progression, and multiple channels. We describe two exergames modified to use nudges to persuade players to slow down, and describe the studies evaluating the use of nudges in these games. PlaneGame shows that nudges can be as effective as an explicit textual display to control player over-exertion. Gekku Race demonstrates that nudges are not necessarily effective when players have a strong incentive to over-exert. However, Gekku Race also shows that, even in high-energy games, the power of nudges can be maintained by adding negative consequences to the nudges. We use the term "shove" to describe a nudge using negative consequences to increase its pressure. We were concerned that making players slow down would damage their immersion—the feeling of being engaged with a game. However, testing showed no loss of immersion through the use of nudges to reduce exertion. Players reported that the nudges and shoves motivated them to slow down when they were over-exerting, and fit naturally into the games.