Game Mechanics and Bodily Interactions: Designing Interactive Technologies for Sports Training

Research output: ResearchPh.D. thesis

Advancements in wearable and ubiquitous computing technologies have radically increased the possibilities for designing full-body human-computer interactions. Among this multitude of new bodily interaction possibilities are sports training technologies and bodily games. In terms of sports training, the technological advancements have led to the development of multiple devices and systems, allowing athletes and coaches to measure bodily performances and monitor progress. In parallel, the same technological advancements have been used to create bodily games, i.e. engaging computer games that utilize physical activity as a control mechanism or the core game mechanic. While sports training technologies and bodily games build upon similar technologies and emanate from sports, they do not share focus. One focuses on measuring, monitoring and skill acquisition, while the other focuses on motivation, engagement and enjoyment. Thus, despite being two coexisting research areas, they do not extend or contribute to one another per se. However, bridging this gap by combining skill acquisition knowledge from sports training technologies with motivational game mechanics from bodily games holds great potential for designing and developing relevant and engaging training experiences. I term this combination interactive sports training games.

This dissertation bridges this gap by exploring how to design and develop bodily interactions that leverage the quality and engagement of sports training by using game mechanics, but also how to identify and avoid the pitfalls and challenges that emerge in the process. It further explores how competition can be facilitated in bodily games and how it affects players. These explorations are done by designing, developing and evaluating innovative interactive sports training games. The results indicate that these games have the ability to motivate players and leverage the training quality in ways that are unattainable in conventional training contexts. Furthermore, the outcomes of these processes are synthesized into generalizable conceptual design tools, e.g. core concepts, conceptual frameworks and design strategies, aiming to support future design of interactive sports training games. These design tools focus on; maintaining relevance and transferability in training, analyzing pitfalls and inexpediency issues in training games, exploring competition through opponent formats, and facilitating competition between mismatched players using technology. In order to assess the proposed tools, this dissertation contains a case study, where ICT Product Design students apply the conceptual frameworks for designing and developing interactive sports training prototypes. The case study indicates that the conceptual outcomes of my work can support analysis, design and development of interactive systems that combine relevant training technologies with bodily games.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherDepartment of Computer Science, Aarhus University
Number of pages200
StatePublished - 2 Nov 2016

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