Effects of Behavioral Contingencies on Adolescent Active Videogame Play and Overall Activity: A Randomized Trial

Gregory J. Norman, Marc Adams, Ernesto R. Ramirez, Jordan A. Carlson, Jacqueline Kerr, Suneeta Godbole, Lindsay Dillon, Simon J. Marshall

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    9 Scopus citations


    Objective: This study evaluated the effect of four active videogames (AVGs) varying in behavioral contingencies (behavior-consequence relations) on adolescent AVG play and overall activity levels over 4 weeks. Materials and Methods: Each AVG, manufactured by SSD/Xavix® (Shiseido Co. of Japan, Tokyo, Japan), was coded and scored for the number of positive and aversive behavioral contingencies within the games. "Bowling" and "Tennis" were classified as having "higher contingency scores," and "Boxing" and aerobic fitness training were classified as having "lower contingency scores." Adolescents (n=63; 11-15 years old; 62% male; 38% Hispanic; 44% overweight or obese) were randomized to play one of the four AVGs at home and recorded game play sessions in a paper log. Baseline and week 4 assessments were completed at home; week 1, 2, and 3 assessments were completed by telephone. Accelerometers were worn during baseline and weeks 1 and 4. Results: Accelerometer-measured sedentary and light activity hours/day were stable over time, whereas moderate-vigorous physical activity minutes/day increased in the higher contingency group and decreased in the lower contingency group (interaction effect, 6.43, P=0.024). Reported game play minutes decreased in both groups from week 1 to week 4 (-29.42 minutes, P=0.001). Discussion: There was some support for the hypothesis that AVGs with more behavioral contingencies, compared with AVGs with fewer behavioral contingencies, result in more physical activity. However, overall AVG play decreased substantially after the first week. Further study is needed to better understand how behavioral contingencies can be used in AVGs to enhance their potential to provide health benefits to game players.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)158-165
    Number of pages8
    JournalGames for Health Journal
    Issue number3
    StatePublished - Jun 1 2013

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Health(social science)
    • Rehabilitation
    • Computer Science Applications
    • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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