What is Game2AWE
Exercise games (known as exergames) appear to be a promising approach for home-based balance and strength training for healthy elderly. Exercising through games can encourage people to train and by performing game scenario tasks they can train both mental and physical skills. In this direction, there is positive evidence that exercise programs that combine balance training and muscle strengthening and coordination can reduce falls and fall risk in the elderly. Game2AWE is a project aiming to develop a new exergame platform suitable for the elderly by integrating innovative features that combined are not provided by existing systems. GAME2AWE combines hardware and intelligent software to create adaptable gaming experiences to improve physical and cognitive functions of older people. The innovation of the proposed platform is found in the combination of three technologies: smart floor, motion sensing and virtual reality, as a means to create friendly exergames for the elderly.
By 2050, the global population of older people (aged 60 and over) is estimated to be 2 billion. Although longevity is an important attainment of modern societies, the cost of unsuccessful ageing is important both on social care systems and on individual level. Therefore, of great importance is what interventions can support successful ageing and enhance the quality of life and well-being.
The development of the game platform is based on well established theories and models such as the Activity Theory of Aging and the Game Flow Model of player enjoyment. In particular, Human Centered Design according to ISO 13407 standard for interactive applications is followed for the development of the exergame applications. The design is based on an iterative process where face-to-face meetings take place at the initial stage between the application development team, the elderly and health specialists (physiotherapists, orthopedics, psychologists) who are invited to identify possible interaction activities and the basic mechanisms related to the interventional goals of each game. A focus group is created to help refine the characteristics of each game and the body movements that will be used to empower the elderly during the game. By capturing the initial plan of the application, a quick prototype of the game concept is implemented, which is given to users for evaluation. The development team responsible for analyzing user assessments and for confirming the suitability of the prototype usage, takes an active role at this stage. This is followed by a redesign phase with improved game rules and interactions prior to the final development of the prototype.
The game platform will incorporate virtual reality (VR) and motion detection sensors. VR creates an interactive and immersive environment that gives users the impression of joining a virtual world. Furthermore, the combination of VR with the motion sensor eliminates the need for additional remote controls providing more freedom of movement to the user. To perform exercises beyond the body movements that will be recognized by the motion sensor, a smart floor will be constructed which will consist of autonomous robotic tiles. By combining multiple technologies for the development of the game platform we can support multimodal interactions (such as voice, gestures, movements and touching). Such interactions can facilitate the implementation of game scenarios in a way that motivates and enhances users’ autonomy while making the platform easy to use.