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Behavioural changes through serious health games: a viable alternative to traditional treatments/techniques?

Kalde, M.A. (2015) Behavioural changes through serious health games: a viable alternative to traditional treatments/techniques?

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Abstract:Unhealthy behaviour is known to lead to obesity and a wide range of health issues, as well as playing a major role in the development and symptomology of mental and physical disorders. Whereas traditional methods of behavioural change require professional attention and are often costly and inefficient, serious health games can be distributed cost-efficiently to a large proportion of the target group. Serious health games are a novel way of combining entertainment with the purpose of changing health-related behaviour. This paper includes a literature review which examines models of behavioural change, the efficacy and methodology of serious health games in achieving them, as well as their limitations. To find out how the theory is applied in practice and to what extent behavioural changes occur, interviews with players of a serious game called “Habitica” have been conducted and first hand experiences have been put in relation to the identified theory. Players of the game successfully achieved and sustained behavioural changes through unconscious application of a range of theoretical models of behavioural change. A big success factor of Habitica is its social aspect, a determinant that has not yet received high levels of attention from the scientific community. Surprisingly, interviewees integrated the game into their lives and keep using it on a daily basis, which serves as a counter example of concerns the scientific community previously voiced over potential relapses and issues with long-term motivation. The theoretical findings and the case of Habitica show that serious health games can be a viable alternative to traditional methods of behavioural health change, even though individuals suffering from health conditions might benefit from further professional treatment. The findings suggest that game developers and researchers can benefit from further looking into social aspects for serious health games.
Item Type:Essay (Bachelor)
Faculty:BMS: Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences
Subject:85 business administration, organizational science
Programme:International Business Administration BSc (50952)
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