Saturday, February 5, 2011

Game Design & Strategy

The final part of the project is the Facebook application is which going to be designed as a virtual world which will be in essence a game to be enjoyed. The game will be encouraging physical activity just as recent video games and peripherals combine fun with physical activity. There are obvious differences but similar aims between what I'am trying to achieve and what current video peripherals such as the wii and xbox 360 Kinect already have achieved. My idea doesn't involve encouraging physical activity by on screen user interactions but by motivating a user to improve their lifestyle by doing more self-initiated physical activity. Both ideas are utilizing a new multimedia to get a user to do extra physical activity. They main similarity I found from researching such peripherals and all their similarities is that they too are trying to motivate a similar audience as I am. I came across a research paper  "Using games to increase exercise motivation" (Graham, 2007) that compared exercise games such as the Wii and Dance Dance Revolution etc. From his investigation he derived design requirements for computer-aided exercise games. They are the following....

1. Integrate Music
    Presence of music reduces a persons perception of how hard they find

2. Facilitate Leadership for novice players
    Starting an exercise program can be intimidating and so people rate the
    importance of instructors in their enjoyment of their programs. 

3. Provide achievable short and long term goals. Combat low self-efficacy.
    It leaves people believe they have the ability to control the events in
    their lives.

4. Hide Players Fitness levels
    Don't use an avatar as it will discourage obese people to play as they will
    associate it with the awkward situation of being in a gym or pool.

5. Avoid Systematic barriers to grouping
    Should avoid segregation of players.

6. Actively assist players informing groups
    People find it easier having a companion to motivate them to do exercise
    with them. Help try foster a sense of community.
    Online games can greatly help in matching people to other interested peers.
    *Mechanisms to develop online friendship and to schedule regular play
      dates can help with motivation to continue exercise.

7. Requirements & Trade Offs
    - Game should be fun
    - The game provides balanced exercise appropriate to the players ability
       without the risk of inquiry. 

The highlighted design requirements that I will apply to my project by the following

  • Tutorial at the beginning of the application so it wont be an intimidating atmosphere for the user.
  • Having a user previous step count a achievable goal but still effective as if they keep beating their previous step count my aim will be complete
  • Use the extra activities as long term goals for users, if they complete all the extra activities they get a reward
  • The city a user creates reflects on how well they are doing with the program no obvious fitness levels or avatar representing the person. On the phone application a user will be able to compare all the previous step counts alright but that is for personal feedback.
  • Game will be designed to be fun
  • Walking reduces the risk of pushing users too far past their physical ability and decreasing the chance of inquiry.
  • An option could be for the extra activities that if two players perform a task together they get double the reward to support companionship

Friday, February 4, 2011

When Setting Goals to Motivate People

There are two important issues when determining reasonable goals that encourage sustainable increase in physical activity...

2 approaches  (a) Same goals for everyone
                    (b) Set individual goals

I think (a) would highlight weaker participants and wouldn't have the desired effect. (b) is difficult to accomplish as everyone is different and it would be impossible to manually assign individual goals to everyone. An approach for (b) would have the first day / week as a basis to beat for the second day / week and then the second day / week a basis for the third and so on. 

These following solutions also take into consideration the previous research done on self-efficacy and encouraging physical activity.

Solution 1
Ideally I would like to create a system with 7 different cities within the one world each city representing a day in the week. On the first day they are walking or doing extra activities to build up New York. Then on Tuesday they are building up Paris. When walking on Monday their aim is just to beat the previous Mondays step count to receive extra credit.They won't be able to build up New York till next Monday again so it gives renewed motivation and it is easy to distinguish which days a user is putting in more effort. For example Mary could be viewing her world and New York is twice the size of Paris obviously she doesn't put in much effort on Tuesdays.

Solution 2 (The more feasible and applicable solution)
A person will only have to beat the step count of the previous day and will be building up the same city every day. To display their previous attempts they will be able to request a graph of their previous days or weeks which will chart all the step counts per day against each other.

Solution 2 will be the first prototype because of time constraints but if feasible  Solution 1 will be the revolution of Solution 2. Both comply with the requirements but Solution 1 entires of a vast scale in comparison to Solution 2.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Encouraging Physical Activity

It is one thing tackling a low self-efficacy mind set but you also have to be able to encourage a user to attempt physical activity.

Sunny Consolvo gives four design requirements in his paper for the Design for Tangible Interactions conference in Canada 2006 "Design Requirements for technologies to encourage physical activities". They are....
  1. Give User proper credit for activities
  2. Provide personal awareness of activity level
  3. Support social influence
  4. Consider the practical constraints of a users lifestyle
I will implement these design requirements with the combination of the device measuring a user physical activity and the application on Facebook the user will be playing
These design requirements are in order but I have been studying them for 3 weeks considering each requirement when making each decision below is my finished decisions.

1. Give user proper credit for activities
Commercially available devices for monitoring physical activity do not truly represent the overall activity levels of many people . So technologies that aim to encourage physical activity must account for the inadequacies. If I'am to create a atmosphere encouraging physical activity I have to give credit for all of a users physical activity.

The two main commercial physical activity monitors are pedometer and heart rate monitor.
  • Pedometer is perfect for counting steps but doesn't take other exercises into account.
  • Heart Rate monitor can't take into account for a persons step and also it can be easily deceived due to stress.
Solution 1
So a persons physical activity for a day would be judged by
a) Steps
b) They enter other physical activity they attempted and for how long, it would then be verified by the heart rate monitor

This solution would suffice but a lot of effort for the user and would be creating a new device which would be a project by itself.

Solution 2
A user would download my app to their phone which would count their steps. Every time they login into Facebook through the app the app will send the number of steps to our Facebook app. To address the issue of giving proper credit for all activities there would be an option in the Facebook app for a user to select what extra activity they attempted on the day say Swimming, Soccer, Cycling etc and what time of the day they attempted it they shall receive extra credit for accomplishing such tasks. To provide validity I will use Consolvo 's Requirement 3 (Social Influence) when a user claims they cycled on a day it will be posted on their wall for all their friends to see. For example Mary selects swimming as her extra activity at 3 o'clock all her friends shall see on her wall 

"Mary earned 25 gold bars today for swimming at 3 o'clock on (Name of App) "

The variables are underlined. There will be more goal bars for harder tasks. There will be a list of tasks to chose from.

I will proceed using solution 2 as I think it is more practical under such tight time constraints.

2. Provide Personal Awareness of activity level
There are 3 important types of personal awareness

      1. History of past behaviour
          People want to see what they are doing each day, week, month
          People want to see patterns of success and failure

      2. Current Status
          People would like to be updated constantly on how many steps they
          have walked in the day instead of checking.
          Technologies need to provide feedback throughout the day

      3. Activity Level Performance
          People get motivated by knowing their performance with respect to
          their goals.
          They want to get to the goal as quickly as possible.

Number 1 could be illustrated in the Facebook App by a graph by graphing the step count of each day

Number 2 would be a feature on the phone app showing the target to beat and also displaying how many steps a user has already taken.

Number 3 the goal would be easily accessible as it would be in the user pocker ie. their phone

3. Support Social Influence
This is also broken into 3 groups.

       - Social Pressure
         Their friends see their results so they feel a need to complete the goals

       - Social Support
         People enjoy getting the recognition for their hard work. 
         User get motivated from seeing a friend do well.

       - Communication 
         People wish to explain for low days or high days

These requirements will all be addressed in the Facebook application

4. Consider the practical constraints of a users lifestyle
A good device will
      > Communicate between friends
      > Easy access to current and past activity information

Issues with a heart rate monitor and pedometer is that they are LARGE & UNATTRACTIVE. They draw unwanted attention to a person.

Technologies that encourage physical activity should not require the user to wear any new devices.

Devices already being carried by people
> Phone
> Bag
> Watch
> Sneakers wit RIDs

Phone is the only appropriate device that could be manipulated


If I'am going to try motivate people with low self-efficacy I firstly have to understand  self-efficacy. Then i need to understand the mind frame of a  person with low self-efficacy and how it is possible to challenge or even to overcome it.

Perceived self-efficacy is concerned with peoples belief in their ability to influence events that affect their life. This core belief is the foundation of human motivation performance accomplishments and emotional well being. Albert Bandura (1997, 2006). 

Bandura found 4 major sources of self-efficacy (Self-efficacy: Toward a unifying theory of behaviour change) during his research of his social learning theory. 

1. Mastery Experience
Performing a task successfully strengthens our sense of self-efficacy. However, failing to adequately deal with a task or challenge can undermine and weaken self-efficacy.

2. Social Modeling
Witnessing other people successfully completing a task is another important source of self-efficacy

3. Social Persuasion
Bandura also asserted that people could be persuaded to believe that they have the skills and capabilities to succeed. Getting verbal encouragement from others helps people to overcome self-doubt

4. Psychological Responses
Our own responses and emotional reactions to situations also play an  important role in self-efficacy. Moods, emotional states, physical reactions and stress levels can all impact how a person feels about  their personal abilities in a particular situation. By learning how to minimize stress and elevate mood when facing difficult or challenging tasks, people can improve their sense of self-efficacy.   
If I develop a way all these issues could be addressed within my application by utilizing a social network it will vastly increase a users self-efficacy while using the application.

Kellers Motivation Model also addresses low self-efficacy but for a learning process. According to John Keller’s ARCS Model of Motivational Design, there are four steps for promoting and sustaining motivation in the learning process: Attention, Relevance, Confidence, Satisfaction (ARCS).

1. Attention
Two ways a) Perceptual Arousal (surprise)
              b) Inquiry Arousal (curiosity)
Methods to get attention would be the following.....

  • Variability
  • Humour
  • Active Participation (Games) * this is relevant to my application *
  • Conflict
  • Inquiry
2. Relevance
Establish relevance to increase participants motivation

3. Confidence
  • Help participants with the likelihood of success. If they don't meet objectives their motivation will decrease
  • Allow for success that is meaningful
  • Feedback
4. Satisfaction
  • Must be rewarding.
  • Do not partionize the participant by over rewarding easy tasks

Points 3 & 4 have to be taken into consideration to sustain motivation during the process of creating gameplay for the application

MA Project Title

A project to utilise a social media to motivate people with low self-efficacy to increase their physical activity.