Body in the interactive game: How interface embodiment affects physical activity and health behavior change

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Does the delivery platform for a health behavior game contribute to its effectiveness? With the growing popularity of interactive video games that combine physical exercise with gameplay, known as "exergames," there has been a burgeoning interest in their impact on users' exercise attitudes and behavioral outcomes. This study examines how the level of user interface embodiment, the degree to which the user's body interacts with the game, affects the user's experience, game behavior, and intention for behavior change. We conducted a between-participants experiment in which participants (N = 119) played an exergame under one of the three levels of user interface embodiment (low, medium, and high). Our results revealed a significant positive main effect of user interface embodiment on user experience (i.e., the sense of being in the game, "presence," and enjoyment); level of energy expenditure (change in heart rate); and intention to further engage in exergame-play exercise but not necessarily to increase exercise in the physical world. A further analysis revealed the mediating roles of user experience in the association between user interface embodiment and intention to repeat exergaming and a potential link between heart rate change and level of presence in the game. We conclude that type of interface is a key variable in this health communication environment, affecting user experience, behavior, and some intention for behavior change. © 2014 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

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Computers in Human Behavior

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