Older Adults’ Perceptions of Video Game Training in the Intervention Comparative Effectiveness for Adult Cognitive Training (ICE-ACT) Clinical Trial: An Exploratory Analysis
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Video game-based interventions have been increasingly explored as a means to prevent or reverse age-related declines in attention, executive control, memory, and processing speed. Further, the gamification of interventions aimed at improving mental and physical health, and encouraging healthy behaviors, holds promise with respect to promoting intervention engagement and adherence. Successful implementation of game-based and gamified interventions depends on the ability to design games that older adults are willing and able to play, which ultimately depends on understanding the game preferences of older adults, and the challenges and barriers to video gameplay. To explore these issues, this paper presents data collected from U.S. participants as part of the Intervention Comparative Effectiveness for Adult Cognitive Training (ICE-ACT) clinical trial. This trial aimed to understand the impact of various interventions on cognition and everyday task performance. Three intervention arms involved video game play: BrainHQ training (gamified cognitive training), Rise of Nations training (commercial complex real-time strategy game), and a control group that played Sudoku, crossword, and word search computer programs. After each game session, participants rated their game experience and provided comments in a game diary. This paper presents analyses of these diary data. The largest differences observed were between attitudes toward the control games and Rise of Nations. Control games were strongly preferred and were perceived as more motivating compared to Rise of Nations, and there was a trend for Rise of Nations to be perceived as more frustrating than BrainHQ. The observed preference for puzzle games, and an aversion for the violent and complex content of Rise Nations, is consistent with previous survey and focus group data of older adults’ game preferences. Results have implications for designing game-based and gamified interventions for older adults that will encourage enjoyment, engagement, and adherence.
KeywordsOlder adults Video games Cognitive intervention Gamification Adherence Engagement
We gratefully acknowledge support from the National Institute on Aging, Projects CREATE III and IV – Center for Research and Education on Aging and Technology Enhancement (www.create-center.org, NIA P01 AG017211). We are grateful to Nelson A. Roque for his assistance developing the online diary system used for this study.
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