Understanding Motivations and Player Experiences of Older Adults in Virtual Reality Training

Aijse W. De Vries*, Jaap H. Van Dieën, Vero Van Den Abeele, Sabine M.P. Verschueren

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Objective: We studied which games and underlying game mechanics are considered motivating by older adults, so that designers and therapists make informed choices when designing or selecting virtual reality (VR)-training interventions. Materials and methods: We conducted a repeated measures design with 30 older participants, who played eight different VR-training games and afterward filled out the intrinsic motivation inventory (IMI). Differences in intrinsic motivation between games were analyzed using Friedman's tests. In addition, in-depth interviews were conducted according to the laddering technique, to unveil the underlying game mechanics that lead to the players preferences. Results: IMI scores were relatively high for all games, indicating that these VR games seem effective for inducing a high intrinsic motivation. Wii yoga and Kinect Adventures were the highest scoring games on all but the negative subscale tension. Both games provided regular positive feedback. An important game mechanic was Variation, which showed a strong link to important values such as: to Stay Focused, Improve Fitness, and Health and Independency. Furthermore, the game mechanics Visual Feedback and Positive Feedback, which lead to an increased Drive to Perform, were perceived valuable. Seemingly contradicting, but both important attributes such as Speed versus Slow Movements emphasize the importance of designing VR training that adapts to the skill level of the player. Conclusion: We have shown that games with different game mechanics can induce high intrinsic motivation. When designing or selecting VR balance training games for older adults, these game mechanics should be incorporated to optimize a positive user experience and increase intrinsic motivation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)369-376
Number of pages8
JournalGames for Health Journal
Issue number6
Early online date30 Nov 2018
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2018


  • Exergames
  • Fall prevention
  • Motivation
  • Older adults
  • User experience
  • Virtual reality


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