Motivating elderly people to exercise using a social collaborative exergame with adaptive difficulty

Dale Cantwell, Daire O. Broin, Ross Palmer, Greg Doyle

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


The European population is ageing and physical decline of elderly people has become a significant issue. A lack of physical exercise results in decreased strength, flexibility, and the loss of bone mass. These are risk factors that cause elderly people to fall, which can result in injury and mortality. The risk of falling can be reduced by partaking in physical activities such as walking. Many elderly people don't exercise as they suffer from social isolation. This affects physical and mental health, causing illnesses such as depression and may result in low motivation to exercise. This paper proposes a solution to these issues: a social collaborative online walking game, the goals of which are to engage and motivate the elderly to exercise frequently and to increase their cardiovascular fitness and muscular strength. We have developed a prototype in HTML5, designed for ease of use for elderly people, which uses the Microsoft Kinect motion camera, the preferred controller selected by the user group. The principal advantage of this solution is it uses adaptive difficulty to provide dynamic balancing, allowing users with different skill levels to play together. User group tests suggested that static difficulty settings are not flexible enough to suit the group's range of skill levels. Each player has an individual difficulty level which is conducive to providing an enjoyable experience for all players. In particular, this facilitates intergenerational gameplay: elderly users can play with their children and grandchildren without comprising their individual enjoyment. Another advantage is that it promotes a gradual rate of improvement that reduces the risk of the user overexertion during exercise. The effects of the walking game are currently being evaluated with an elderly user group.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 6th European Conference on Games Based Learning ECGBL 2012
Publication statusPublished - 2012
Event6th European Conference on Games Based Learning, ECGBL 2012 - Cork, Ireland
Duration: 04 Oct 201205 Oct 2012

Publication series

NameProceedings of the European Conference on Games-based Learning
ISSN (Print)2049-0992


Conference6th European Conference on Games Based Learning, ECGBL 2012


  • Adaptive difficulty
  • Exergames
  • Microsoft kinect
  • Serious games
  • Social collaborative games


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