Step-based Exergames Used in Balance Training for Seniors: A Usability Study
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This study explores the potential of the use of step-based exergames in balance training for senior citizens. Three exergames were tested and evaluated by healthy senior citizens to provide a basis for further development and use of these types of exergames.\newline Three mini games were chosen for evaluation; SilverFit and "the Mole" mini game, Your Shape and the "Light Race" mini game, and a modified version of Dance Dance Revolution for PC. The reason for the choice of exergames to be evaluated, was that all of three games require the player to perform a step-based movement that can potentially improve the player's balance. To collect data to evaluate these exergames, there were two main phases of research conducted. Firstly, 14 individual sessions of usability tests were conducted with senior citizens. Secondly, a focus group session with domain experts in human movement science was held. \newline The aim of the first phase was to evaluate which of these three selected exergames, was most preferred by the senior user-group and what game elements that contributed positively and negatively to the seniors' motivational factors and preference of game. The aim of the second phase was to explore the aspect of success-factors and requirements that exists for the use of exergames in balance-training from domain experts' point of view.\newlineIn the usability tests that were conducted, 14 healthy senior citizens each played the three selected games in a balanced order, and was asked to give their opinions and preferences afterwards. A card-ranking session and System Usability Scale forms filled out after every game-play showed that it was the SilverFit game that was the most preferred game by seniors. The seniors were also asked what elements that they found important in a game like this for them to take it into use. Through a qualitative analysis of the data form the usability tests, it was found that a challenging of level of difficulty, mastery of game aims, high-scores and progression, entertaining concept, and multi-player functionality are game elements that are important factors if senior citizens are going to use exergames at a regular basis.\newlineAfter conducting all usability tests, one focus group session was held with two domain experts in the field of human movement science. These experts established that the success criteria for use of exergames in balance training with seniors are fun, safety, shifting of bodyweight, independent use, full-body movement and challenging game-play. SilverFit: "the Mole", Your Shape: "Light Race", and a modified version of Dance Dance Revolution were all evaluated on the basis of recordings from the usability tests. In terms of the criteria established, experts found that SilverFit was the most suitable game, although not optimal, due to the lack of progression in the game.\newlineAfter conducting two phases of research and data collection, it can be concluded from this study that new exergames need to be developed specifically intended for regular balance-training for senior citizens.