Do You Think This is a Game?


The general promise of employing the motivational power of games for serious purposes, such as performing physiotherapy exercises, is well-established. However, game user research discusses both the approach of gamification, i.e. adding game-elements on to a task-focused application and of serious games, i.e. injecting task-focused elements into a more fully-fledged game. There is a surprising lack of empirical work that contrasts both approaches. We present both a casually gamified application and a serious game with purpose-driven mechanics that provide different frontends to the same underlying digital health application. This application aims at supporting physiotherapy sessions for chronic lower-back afflictions. Results from an explorative pre-study contrasting both approaches indicate a clear preference for the serious game version, capturing higher perceived motivational components (autonomy and relatedness), as well as higher immersion and flow relative to the gamified version.

Extended Abstracts of the 2018 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems