The gamification of fitness training is clearly focused on the increasingly popular genre of Exergames (Exertion/Exercise + Gaming). Exergames are body-focused games, driven by complex coordination and cognitive manoeuvres. When combined with the strong motivational component of gaming, these games offer an innovative, scientifically validated alternative/complement for holistic fitness training with high user appeal.
The use of Exergames in the fitness training context could be further optimized if the training/game-playing tasks could be individually adapted to the physical and emotional states of the player during the training session, keeping the player in balance. This is known as Dual Flow. The Dual Flow condition can be seen as equivalent to the optimum training and wellbeing mode, where the user is in the zone between too little and too much physical stress, and between mental stress and boredom.
To develop and research a gamified movement and fitness training setting for children and young people. The exergame setting of Plunder Planet takes the player into the world of a young pirate, who in his flying ship discovers a long-dead planet, and sets off on a hunt for buried treasure. The airship is steered with a movement-based controller. The game tests the player’s coordination and cognitive skills.
The setting concept must be soundly based in the science of movement, along with a strong emphasis on providing an ideal game experience (GEx). The primary focus is on holistic full-body motion game control and the implementation of a game (play) design adapting individually to the changes in the player’s physical and emotional states. To achieve these training settings conducive to dual flow, a number of innovative approaches were used, such as Dynamic Game Balancing or Biofeedback game design.
- An adaptive exergame is more appealing and effective, and therefore more durable, than a non-adaptive product.
- Fitness training with an (adaptive) exergame has the potential to be more appealing and more effective than conventional fitness training.
- How do specific game mechanics impact on emotions, GEx, motivation and physical performance as a function of player type/fitness type and prior gaming experience?
- Which game variants (adaptive vs. non-adaptive) have the most beneficial impact on physical fitness, cognition, motivation and GEx?
- Could the results of exergame training over several weeks compete with the physical, cognitive and motivational effects of a traditional fitness programme over the same period of time?
Evaluation is carried out with both quantitative methods (questionnaires, measurements) and qualitative techniques (interviews, observation) during the various research cycles, for optimization of the adaptive exergame on the basis of the results.
The next stage could be to further enhance and research the approach for specific target groups, sports and rehabilitation programmes.