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What Players of Virtual Reality Exercise Games Want: Thematic Analysis of Web-Based Reviews

Faric, N; Potts, HWW; Hon, A; Smith, L; Newby, K; Steptoe, A; Fisher, A; (2019) What Players of Virtual Reality Exercise Games Want: Thematic Analysis of Web-Based Reviews. JMIR , 21 (9) , Article e13833. 10.2196/13833. Green open access

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Abstract

BACKGROUND: Physical activity (PA) is associated with a variety of physical and psychosocial health benefits, but levels of moderate-to-vigorous intensity PA remain low worldwide. Virtual reality (VR) gaming systems involving movement (VR exergames) could be used to engage people in more PA. OBJECTIVE: This study aimed to synthesize public reviews of popular VR exergames to identify common features that players liked or disliked to inform future VR exergame design. METHODS: We conducted a thematic analysis of 498 reviews of the 29 most popular exergames sold in the top 3 VR marketplaces: Steam (Valve Corporation), Viveport (Valve Corporation), and Oculus (Oculus VR). We categorized reviews as positive and negative as they appeared in the marketplaces and identified the most common themes using an inductive thematic analysis. RESULTS: The reviews were often mixed, reporting a wide variety of expectations, preferences, and gaming experiences. Players preferred highly realistic games (eg, closely simulated real-world sport), games that were intuitive (in terms of body movement and controls), and games that provided gradual increases in skill acquisition. Players reported feeling that they reached a high level of exertion when playing and that the immersion distracted them from the intensity of the exercise. Some preferred features included music and social aspects of the games, with multiplayer options to include friends or receive help from experienced players. There were 3 main themes in negative reviews. The first concerned bugs that rendered games frustrating. Second, the quality of graphics had a particularly strong impact on perceived enjoyment. Finally, reviewers disliked when games had overly complex controls and display functions that evoked motion sickness. CONCLUSIONS: Exergames prove to be a stimulating avenue for players to engage in PA and distract themselves from the negative perceptions of performing exercise. The common negative aspects of VR exergames should be addressed for increased uptake and continued engagement.

Type: Article
Title: What Players of Virtual Reality Exercise Games Want: Thematic Analysis of Web-Based Reviews
Location: Canada
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.2196/13833
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.2196/13833
Language: English
Additional information: This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work, first published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research, is properly cited. The complete bibliographic information, a link to the original publication on http://www.jmir.org/, as well as this copyright and license information must be included.
Keywords: Behavior, exercise, obesity, sedentary lifestyle, sports, video games, virtual reality, weight loss
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > Institute of Epidemiology and Health
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > Institute of Epidemiology and Health > Behavioural Science and Health
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > Institute of Health Informatics
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > Institute of Health Informatics > CHIME
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10082074
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