Effects of Balancing for Physical Abilities on Player Performance, Experience and Self-esteem in Exergames


Game balancing can help players with different skill levels play multiplayer games together; however, little is known about how the balancing approach affects performance, experience, and self-esteem’especially when differences in player strength result from given abilities, rather than learned skill. We explore three balancing approaches in a dance game and show that the explicit approach commonly used in commercial games reduces self-esteem and feelings of relatedness in dyads, whereas hidden balancing improves self-esteem and reduces score differential without affecting game outcome. We apply our results in a second study with dyads where one player had a mobility disability and used a wheelchair. By making motion-based games accessible for people with different physical abilities, and by enabling people with mobility disabilities to compete on a par with able-bodied peers, we show how to provide empowering experiences through enjoyable games that have the potential to increase physical activity and self-esteem.

Proceedings of the SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems