Using an alternate reality game to increase physical activity and decrease obesity risk of college students

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Author(s)

Johnston, J. D.
Massey, A. P.
Marker-Hoffman R. L.

Publication

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Johnston, J. D., Massey, A. P., & Marker-Hoffman R. L. (2012). Using an alternate reality game to increase physical activity and decrease obesity risk of college students. Journal of Diabetes Science and Technology, 6(4), 828-838.

Health topic: Exercise and Fitness, Obesity and Weight Loss
Target population: Adults, Young Adults
Game platform: Multi-Platform
Publication type: Journal Article

Abstract

Johnston, J.D., Massey, A.P., & Marker-Hoffman R.L., Using an Alternate Reality Game to Increase Physical Activity and Decrease Obesity Risk of College Students investigated effects of an alternate reality game (ARG), called The Skeleton Chase, on college students' physical activity. An ARG is an interactive fictional game experience that takes place in the real world and uses a variety of media to reveal the story and engage the player. The Skeleton Chase was designed to meet the learning preferences of today's college students: collaborative and social, experiential and media-rich. The study compared the physical activity of students who were assigned either to participate in the ARG, which required a great deal of physical activity in order to play, or were assigned to use exercise equipment in weekly lab sessions. It found that physical activity increased over time among students who played the ARG, while it decreased over the same time period for students who used exercise equipment. The study demonstrates the power of immersive stories to motivate behavior change. When specific health behaviors are aligned with the dramatic action of a story, players are motivated to carry out the behaviors in order to advance the plot and, in this case, to solve a mystery. Grantee: Indiana University.