Research has shown that one of the key aspects of overcoming loneliness amongst older adults is the fostering of relationships’ between older persons and grandchildren. Intergenerational activities help to enable conversations on similar interest topics, and activities leading to happiness and a feeling of belongingness. Gaming technologies have helped to bridge gaps across physical and social distances.
Rice, M., Tan, W. P., Ong, J., Yau, L. J., Wan, M., & Ng, J. (2013). The dynamics of younger and older adult’s paired behavior when playing an interactive silhouette game. Proceedings of the SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems – CHI ’13, 1081. doi:10.1145/2470654.2466138
The paper investigates the design of a novel gesture-based game and evaluated the behavior of intergenerational gameplay. The authors divided the sample population into (i) Young-Young, (ii) Old-Old, and (iii) Young-Old to evaluate the communicative and cooperative behavior of same-age and mixed-age pairs. The authors took a mixed-methods approach combining direct observations, post-game questionnaires. The authors indicated that their results showed a greater physical cooperation between the group-type, Young-Old, as compared to the same-age groups. The paper indicated that the expectations of the young and old differ a lot and their perceived interaction also differs; hence it is critical to understand the nuances of expectations and interaction requirements allowing for intergenerational gameplay. The article explores the value of intergenerational games and proposes a few recommendations for future research.
Games have served to be of therapeutic value in maintaining and improving the quality of life of older adults. These games have served to provide cognitive training, physical rehabilitation, memory training, and have helped with improving the emotional outlook of aged persons. The authors argue that social interaction with grandchildren has been a strong motivator (Vandel Abeele et al., 2010) because of the potential of better communication, improved problem solving skills and building relationships between different age-groups.
The paper describes the design and evaluation of a novel gesture-based game while evaluating the behavior of pairs of younger-older adults, to determine the interaction methodology of mixed–age and same-age players. In this paper the authors argue that digital games can encourage social interaction between generations based on the differences in requirements, values and needs of either user profile. Through prior research, the authors indicate that older adults preferred a cooperative type of game play as opposed to competitive play, and an over competitiveness amongst younger players is a detracting factor for older adults. Younger adults on the other hand indicate the passivity of older alder adults to be detrimental in their engagement in gameplay with older adults. A summary of the prior research relating the intergenerational challenges between younger and older adult players are shown below.
|Supporting intergenerational games||Mental models and digital affordances||Vanden Abeele, V., and De Schutter, B. Designing intergenerational play via enactive interaction, competition and acceleration. Pers Ubiquit Comput 14, 5 (2010), 425-433.|
|Customization||Modifying the amount of gameplay challenge between age groups||Khoo, E.T., Merritt, T., and Cheok, A.D. Designing physical and social intergenerational family entertainment. Interacting with Computers 21, 1-2 (2009), 76-87.|
|Type of gameplay||Cooperation vs. competition||Al Mahmud, A., Mubin, O., Shahid, S., and Martens, J-B. Designing social games for children and older adults: Two related case studies. Entertainment Computing 1, 3-4 (2010), 147-156.|
|Co-located gameplay||Older adults tend to help rather than compete. Lack of social competitiveness||Gajadhar, B.J., Nap, H.H., de Kort, Y.A.W., and IJsselsteijn, W.A.Out of sight, out of mind: Co-player effects on seniors’ player experience. In Proc. Fun & Games‘10, ACM Press (2010), 74-83.|
|Competitiveness amongst children||Perception of Gameplay advantage||Chiong, C. Can video games promote intergenerational play and literacy learning? The Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop, 2009.|
|Over-competitiveness amongst younger players||Detracts older players from engaging in intergenerational gameplay||Nap, H.H., de Kort, Y.A.W., and IJsselsteijn, W.A. Senior gamers: Preferences, motivations and needs. Gerontechnology 8, 4 (2009), 247-262.|
|Pro-activeness amongst younger players||Decisions on types of game to be played due to pro-activeness||Voida, A., and Greenberg, S. Console gaming across generations: Exploring intergenerational interactions in collocated console gaming. Universal Access in the Information Society 11, 1 (2012), 45-56.|
|Time taken by older adults vs. younger players in gameplay||Passivity in older adult’s interaction||Voida, A., and Greenberg, S. Console gaming across generations: Exploring intergenerational interactions in collocated console gaming. Universal Access in the Information Society 11, 1 (2012), 45-56.|
|Understanding digital games||Lack of knowledge on the part of older adults, children become the authority.||Chiong, C. Can video games promote intergenerational play and literacy learning? The Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop, 2009.|
|Relationships between older and younger players||+ve attitudes between grandchildren and grandparents.||Boon, S.D., and Brussoni, M.J. Popular images of grandparents: Examining young adults’ views of their closest grandparents. Personal Relationships 5, 1 (1998), 105-119.|
|Intergenerational bonding||Reduce segregation and prevent ageism||Lloyd, J. The state of intergenerational relations today. ILC-UK, 2008.|
|Dependency between generations||Emotional support toolder grandchildren||Ross, N., Hill, M., Sweeting H., and Cunningham-Burley, S. Grandparents and teen grandchildren: Exploring intergenerational relationships. Report for the ESRC, Centre for Research on Families and Relationships, 2005.|
|Rehabilitation and physical therapy||Gesture movements||Gerling, K.M., Livingston, I.J., Nacke, L.E., and Mandryk, R.L. Full-body motion-based game interaction for older adults. In Proc.CHI ‘12, ACM Press (2012), 1873-1882.|
|Physical coordination||Improvement in physical coordination through games used in stroke therapy||Alankus, G., Lazar, A., May, M., and Kelleher, C. Towards customizable games for stroke rehabilitation. In Proc. CHI ‘10, ACM Press (2010), 2113-2122.|
|Lack of respect for older adults||Reduced positive perceptions towards older adults||Sanders, G.F., Montgomery, J.E., Pittman, Jr, J.F., and Balkwell, C. Youth’s attitudes toward the elderly. Journal of Applied Gerontology 3, 1 (1984), 59-70.|
|Discomfort and uncertainty by younger adults to deal with older adults||Stronger obligation to be respectful||McCann, R.M., Cargile, A.C., Giles, H., and Bui, C.T. Communication ambivalence toward elders: Data from North Vietnam, South Vietnam, and the U.S.A. Journal of CrossCultural Gerontology 19, 4 (2004), 275-297.|
|Intergenerational exchange||Reduction in familial interaction||Thang, L.L. Promoting intergenerational understanding between the young and old: The case of Singapore. UN Report of the Expert Group Meeting in Qatar, March 2011.|
|Community involved projects||generational re-engagement||Thang, L.L. Promoting intergenerational understanding between the young and old: The case of Singapore. UN Report of the Expert Group Meeting in Qatar, March 2011.|
Study Design: Xtreme Gardener Game Design: The authors used digitized shadow to create shadow interactivity using the established method of frame differencing and blob detection.
Personally, I liked the premise of the new game where the player interacts with their silhouette to nurture a small set of plants while controlling various weather elements. Players will rewards in the form of virtual money for the number of plants that they keep alive, which in-turn can be used to customize plant features. The game levels had 5 levels.
|Hypothesis||Evaluate the communicative and cooperative behavior of same-age and mixed-age pairs.|
|Pilot study||2 Pilot studies||Balance of levels, visual design and gestures that would be suitable for both age groups in the prototype game|
|Participants||60 participants ( 20 players in each group)Young-Young (Y-Y),Young-Old (Y-O) or Old-Old (O-O)||16 males, 44 females Younger adults (15-20 years) Older Adults (55 -74 years) Players did not know each other.|
|Method||Between-subjects design; to compare gameplay interactions and general perceptions of engagement||Three groups of younger and older players|
|Time interval||90 minutes||One pair played the game.|
|Materials||Xtreme Gardner game, projector, laptop with camera, large projection screen|
|Procedure||Tutorials about the game; Play the game for 30 minutes to complete 5 levels; answer a post game questionnaire; semi-structured interview conducted by two facilitators (20-25 minutes)|
|Measures||Observations, post-game questionnaires, post-game interviews:Questionnaire had 5 constructs: 3 social interaction constructs (Cooperation, communication, partner preference) and 2 constructs on the appropriateness and usability of the game (Ease of use and Competence) 5 point Likert scale for questionnairesVideo recordings were coded based on Yoder and Symons methodology for measuring cooperative behavior: Verbal Cooperative, Physical Cooperative, and Noncompliance||-review participants’ perceptions andpreferences to the prototype game;-focused on their interactive experience during the gameplay-suitability of the game for different age groupsStatistical measures: Pearsons Correlation, ANOVA. Welch’s F test, Games-Howell, t-test|
|Findings||Questionnaire Data:Younger participants reported better communication between same-age partners.Presence of younger partners helped facilitate the gameplay for the older participantsObservational Data: Y-Y pairs needed les communication as their confidence level in the game increased., unfazed by mistakesO-O pairs had severe challenges in understanding gamelogic, spent more time in discussing rules, and low number of completion levelsY-O pairs support from younger player made older players more assertive, supportive gameplayInterview Data: interactions between pairs improved with longer gameplay.||The authors reported questionnaire findings, paired observational analysis and followed by feedback of post-game interviews|
The authors distinctly categorized the questionnaires into specific interaction constructs. From my perspective this was a good development of the measures and helped to cover a wide range of questions from the areas of social interaction to usability issues. The study was systematic and well structured. The paper helps to make evident, a structured and categorized definition of constructs which enabled the authors to relate social interaction between players of the three age groups of participants.
I believe that the number of questions in each construct could have been further detailed out to define satisfaction, intrinsic motivation, extrinsic motivation, physical well-being and mental well-being. It is important to also determine if the physical and mental well-being of the partners would serve as hindrances or enablers for social interaction between the players.
I need to delve further into the statistical results to look at the correlations between the dependent variables indicated in the five constructs of the study design. I liked the methodical manner in which the authors explained their statistical results. It helped me to understand their fundamental approach towards establishing the relationships between their findings from study measures.
In the postgame interviews, the authors categorized their findings into gameplay satisfaction, gameplay suitability, stereotyped perceptions, cognitive flexibility; intergenerational cooperation and metrics for validation of intergenerational gameplay within game design.
The authors detailed out a structured and methodical study design to evaluate their new game which used digital silhouette as a means to infuse fun in intergenerational gameplay. From their study the authors identified a number of recommendations which addressed interaction issues for older adults between intergenerational age groups. The authors recommend the explorations of role differentiation and interdependence; gameplay assistance; focal points; physical engagement; and instructional support.
I believe that intergenerational gameplay is also dependent on intrinsic and extrinsic motivational attributes between the age groups. The key is to identify common parameters of interest in activities, common themes of interest, and common goals between the different age groups. It is critical to cater to the needs of both age groups, as opposed to providing a one size fits all solution and expect both the age groups to be motivated to play the game. A matrix of user needs for the different age groups would have helped in isolating key motivational attributes that could help to define game story, game mechanics while superimposing the “fun” aspect in any intergenerational gaming activity.