The gamification of cognitive training: Older adults’ perceptions of and attitudes toward digital game-based interventions

Walter R. Boot, Dustin Souders, Neil Charness, Kenneth Blocker, Nelson Roque, Thomas Vitale

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

28 Scopus citations

Abstract

There has been recent excitement over the potential for commercial and custom digital games to reverse age-related perceptual and cognitive decline. The effectiveness of digital game-based brain training is controversial. However, a separate issue is, should digital game-based interventions prove effective, how best to design these interventions to encourage intervention engagement and adherence by older adults (ages 65 +). This study explored older adults’ perceptions and attitudes toward game-based interventions after they were asked to play digital games (experimental or control games) for a month-long period. Clear differences in attitudes toward game-based interventions were observed, as assessed by post-intervention surveys, with older adults finding games in the control condition (word and number puzzle games) more enjoyable and less frustrating compared to a digital game that consisted of gamified brain training interventions that have demonstrated some degree of success in the literature. Interestingly, older adults perceived the control condition as more likely to boost perceptual and cognitive abilities (e.g., vision, reaction time), as assessed by a post-intervention survey of expectations. Although predicting intervention adherence was challenging, overall motivation to do well in the intervention was significantly related to perceptions of cognitive benefit. Not surprisingly, game enjoyment also predicted motivation. Finally, older adults who perceived the game they were assigned to play as more challenging were more likely to believe the game would boost cognition. These findings identify attitudes and beliefs that could be targeted to motivate older adults to adhere to digital game-based interventions found to boost cognition. To better explore factors related to intervention adherence in the future we propose studies of longer duration (e.g., 6-12 months) and studies that allow more flexibility and choice with respect to amount of gameplay (instead of gameplay being dictated by a fixed schedule determined by the experimenter, leaving less variability to be explained by individual difference factors).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationHuman Aspects of IT for the Aged Population
Subtitle of host publicationDesign for Aging - 2nd International Conference, ITAP 2016 and Held as Part of HCI International 2016, Proceedings
EditorsJia Zhou, Gavriel Salvendy
PublisherSpringer Verlag
Pages290-300
Number of pages11
ISBN (Print)9783319399423
DOIs
StatePublished - 2016
Event2nd International Conference on Human Aspects of IT for the Aged Population, ITAP 2016 and held as a part of 18th International Conference on Human-Computer Interaction, HCI International 2016 - Toronto, Canada
Duration: Jul 17 2016Jul 22 2016

Publication series

NameLecture Notes in Computer Science (including subseries Lecture Notes in Artificial Intelligence and Lecture Notes in Bioinformatics)
Volume9754
ISSN (Print)0302-9743
ISSN (Electronic)1611-3349

Conference

Conference2nd International Conference on Human Aspects of IT for the Aged Population, ITAP 2016 and held as a part of 18th International Conference on Human-Computer Interaction, HCI International 2016
Country/TerritoryCanada
CityToronto
Period7/17/167/22/16

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Theoretical Computer Science
  • General Computer Science

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