The use of game modes to promote engagement and social involvement in multi-user serious games: a within-person randomized trial with stroke survivors

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Background: Serious games are promising for stroke rehabilitation, with studies showing a positive impact on reducing motor and cognitive deficits. However, most of the evidence is in the context of single-user rehabilitation, and little is known concerning the impact in multi-user settings. This study evaluates the impact that different game modes can have on engagement and social involvement during a two-user game. Specifically, we want to understand the benefits of game modalities based on competition, co-activation, and collaboration and analyze the influence of different motor and cognitive deficits and personality traits. Methods: We developed a two-player setup—using tangible objects and a large screen interactive table—for upper limb rehabilitation purposes. We implemented a game that, while keeping the same basic mechanics, can be played in the three different modes (Competitive, Co-active, and Collaborative). We ran a within-person randomized study with 21 stroke survivors that were paired and played the game in its three versions. We used the Game Experience Questionnaire—Core Module to assess engagement and the Social Presence Module to assess Social Involvement. For personality, motor, and cognitive function, users answered the International Personality Item Pool (short version), Fugl-Meyer Assessment—Upper Extremity, Modified Ashworth Scale, and Montreal Cognitive Assessment, respectively. Results: The Collaborative mode promoted significantly more Behavioral Involvement. The Competitive mode promoted more Flow and Challenge than the Co-active mode with participants with better cognitive performance, with low extraversion, or with higher motor skills. Participants with higher cognitive deficits reported more Competence with the Co-active mode. Conclusions: Our results indicate that, for multi-user motor rehabilitation settings, the collaborative mode is the more appropriate gaming approach to promote social involvement, showing a high potential for increasing adherence and effectiveness of therapy. Additionally, we show that a player's motor and cognitive ability and personality should be considered when designing personalized tasks for multiplayer settings.




Pereira, F., Bermúdez i Badia, S., Jorge, C., & Cameirão, M. S. (2021). The use of game modes to promote engagement and social involvement in multi-user serious games: a within-person randomized trial with stroke survivors. Journal of NeuroEngineering and Rehabilitation, 18(1).

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