UCL Institute of Health Informatics


What do players of virtual reality exercise games want?

23 September 2019

A new paper by the UCL IHI researchers explore what players of virtual reality exercise games want.

“Virtual reality gaming is increasingly popular and, as health researchers, we wanted to find out how we could best use VR gaming to increase people’s physical activity,” explained Dr Henry Potts of the UCL Institute of Health Informatics, who first came up with the idea for this new paper which was published last week.

The study, published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research, uses existing online reviews of VR “exergames” to identify what features make a game popular and get users to engage in physical activity. Players have a wide variety of expectations, preferences and gaming experiences. They preferred realistic VR games (for example, those that closely simulate real-world sport), games that are intuitive to play, and games that provide gradual increases in skill acquisition. Players said they reached a high level of exertion when playing and that the immersion in the game distracts them from the intensity of the exercise.

The study was led by Nuša Farič, who is currently studying for her PhD at the Institute of Health Informatics, as part of the v-Engage project (@vEngage_Study on Twitter) designing a VR exercise game, led by Dr Abi Fisher in the UCL Research Department of Behavioural Science and Health.

To read the full paper visit the JMIR website.

The paper's full citation is:  Farič N, Potts HWW, Hon A, Smith L, Newby K, Steptoe A, Fisher A (2019). What do players of virtual reality exercise games want: Thematic analysis of web-based reviews. Journal of Medical Internet Research, 21(9), e13833. doi: 10.2196/13833