The Impact of Gameful Design on Sedentary Adults' Motivation for Physical Activity and Physical Activity Levels

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Background: Gameful design has been shown to have the potential to increase motivation for and engagement with physical activity (PA). However, at present, there is a significant lack of well-designed frameworks identifying effective pathways to increase PA behaviour. Purpose: To design a rigorous, methodologically sound, theory-grounded framework for developing gamefully designed PA interventions. Methods: Intervention Mapping (IM) was used to develop the study protocol, consisting of three studies. Study 1 encompassed the design of a novel theoretical framework leading to the selection of a gamefully designed PA intervention application. Study 2 entailed the intervention implementation. Participants (n = 83; mean age = 33.56; females = 48) were randomised to a six-week intervention. Data collection over a six-month period included biometric data, objective measurement of moderate-to-vigorous PA (MVPA) and a detailed PA motivation inventory. Study 3 presented a process evaluation focused on usefulness, effectiveness and feasibility via a systematic mixed-methods approach. Results: Study 1 led to the creation of a new Taxonomy of Situated Motivational Affordances (SMAs) for Gameful Design, the establishment of selection criteria for gamefully designed PA applications and the selection of a commercial application (Fitocracy) for the example case pilot intervention. Study 2 showed no statistically significant change observations in relation to MVPA; however, at six weeks the intervention group showed significant increased levels of identified regulation (internalised motivation) for PA. A significant correlation (p=0.031) between intrinsic regulation and MVPA was verified. Study 3 determined the usefulness of a systematic methodological study design, a low adoption rate of the intervention application and the appreciation of the complex nature of human motivation in relation to PA. Conclusions: Gamefully designed applications grounded in theories such as SDT, BCTs and the newly developed Taxonomy of SMAs for Gameful Design have the potential to be effective in impacting motivation for PA and PA levels.


A thesis submitted for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy,University of Bath, Department for Health

First Department

Public Health, Nutrition and Wellness