Motion-Based Video Games for Older Adults in Long-Term Care
Older adults in residential care often lead sedentary lifestyles despite physical and cognitive activities being crucial for their well-being. Care facilities face the challenge of encouraging their residents to participate in leisure activities, but as the impact of age-related changes grows, few activities remain accessible. Video games in general – and motion-based games in particular – hold the promise of providing mental, physical and social stimulation for older adults. However, the accessibility of commercially available games for older adults is not considered during the development process. Therefore, many older adults are unable to obtain any of the benefits. In my dissertation, this issue is addressed through the development of motion-based game controls that specifically address the needs of older adults. The first part of this thesis lays the foundation by providing an overview of motion-based game interaction for older adults. The second part demonstrates the general feasibility of motion-based game controls for older adults, develops full-body motion-based and wheelchair-based game controls, and provides guidelines for accessible motion-based game interaction for institutionalized older adults. The third part of this thesis builds on these results and presents two case studies. Motion-based controls are applied and further evaluated in game design projects addressing the special needs of older adults in long-term care, with the first case study focusing on long-term player engagement and the role of volunteers in care homes, and the second case study focusing on connecting older adults and caregivers through play. The results of this dissertation show that motion-based game controls can be designed to be accessible to institutionalized older adults. My work also shows that older adults enjoy engaging with motion-based games, and that such games have the potential of positively influencing them by providing a physically and mentally stimulating leisure activity. Furthermore, results from the case studies reveal the benefits and limitations of computer games in long-term care. Fostering inclusive efforts in game design and ensuring that motion-based video games are accessible to broad audiences is an important step toward allowing all players to obtain the full benefits of games, thereby contributing to the quality of life of diverse audiences.
Video Games, Accessibility, Human-Computer Interaction, Older Adults, Long-Term Care
Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)