Social Gaming Aids Weight Loss Programme
New research suggests that adding social gaming elements to a behaviour tracing programme will help people to exercise more regularly and decrease their body-mass index.
The results show that the introduction of games could improve the effectiveness of traditional health interventions for motivating behaviour change.
Researchers at the University of South Carolina and the University at Buffalo studied young and middle-aged adults over a period of ten weeks across a range of lifestyles, from sedentary to very active.
One group of participants was assigned to keep an online diary of physical activity, a strategy which has become a common way of motivating people to make people adhere to an activity schedule.
Another group was asked to keep a version of the diary which included social gaming, they would earn points for their exercise and could then redeem them for animated activities performed by their virtual characters, as well as collect memories and earn gifts to share with other participants.
The two groups switched after five weeks and the results showed that social gaming helped both groups exercise more frequently. However, the effects were strongest in the group that started with gaming and the effects were sustained even after gaming was removed.