Bringing together the Exergame and the Serious Game for Young children: an action research project towards the enhancement of physical health and learning during classroom time

Sarah O'Brien, Kristina Blinova, , Alison Innerd

    Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


    Over the last decade two new forms of video games have emerged that align with the cultural shift towards the importance of users’ ‘experience’. First, we have ‘exergames, which involve physical activity as a means of interacting with the game’ (Lieberman, 2006). These games have an ‘exertion interface’ as opposed to conventional ones: the most famous example being Dance Dance Revolution (DDR) by Konami Corporation ( Second, we have seen the emergence of Serious Games for health, including medical training, patient comfort, rehabilitation and health and physical education (Wattanassoontorn 2013: 234). Since 2006 the number of serious games in the UK has been growing exponentially, and, although we could attribute this to the decreased cost of technology, we cannot underestimate the impact of the ‘experience economy’ (Gilmore and Pine 1999). It is with the ‘experience economy’ in mind; its draw to those who are ‘hard to reach’ and the impact serious games can have in education, that our action research project turns when looking to meet the needs of health in primary education in the UK.
    It is believed that exergames could be used within the framework of Health Education and Physical Education to improve the health and physical status of today’s youth (Papastergiou, 2009). However, Schools are under academic performance pressure which often results in Physical Education and physical activity (PA) time being reduced to allow time to meet the academic objectives (Huberty et al, 2012; Buijs, 2009). Therefore, a key requirement for a successful PA intervention is the ability for it to be integrated into the curriculum. A serious exergame for primary schools, therefore, may be sustainable if it can fit into the core curriculum. However, so far, there has been little research that examines serious exergames games that have a core-curricular learning outcome for primary school children. In addition to this, the design models currently available are limited when considering interdisciplinary approaches to the creation of serious games, notably, missing interactional pedagogical learning through drama.

    Our project aims to produce a serious exergame for Key Stage 2 (7-11 year olds) for primary schools in the UK. We are looking to follow, and develop, the Activity Theory Model for Serious Games (ATSMG) (Carvalho et al. 2015) when designing and developing the educational aspects of a prototype. This presentation gives context to our action research project and examines how our prototype responds to the following research questions:
    Can a learning outcome on the primary core curriculum be met through a serious game with an exertion interface?
    How can serious exergames games be sustainable within an educational environment?
    Do serious exergames for young children in a classroom environment improve health?
    What are the limitations of current design models for immersive gaming?
    How does our prototype develop current design models for serious games?
    Learning outcomes:
    - Introduce history and significance of exergames and serious games for health and education.
    - Outline of the current serious exergames games, design models and approaches to design.
    - Review a prototype serious exergame and how it responds research questions surrounding health and education.
    Original languageEnglish
    Publication statusPublished - 2018
    Event2nd Digital Health and Wellbeing Conference - The Open University, Milton Keynes, United Kingdom
    Duration: 1 May 20183 May 2018


    Conference2nd Digital Health and Wellbeing Conference
    Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
    CityMilton Keynes
    Internet address


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