Participation in Exergames from an Ecological Perspective Thesis uri icon


  • Exergames are a relatively new addition to the physical activity literature. Exergames are activities that combine exercise with game-play and bring together virtual communities with real life to provide entertainment, exercise, and social interaction for players. We initiated the Geocaching for Exercise and Activity Research (GEAR) study, which is a longitudinal, exploratory study, to investigate the benefits of exergame participation via a frequently played exergame called geocaching. The study tracked 1002 participants across the United States for twelve-months to measure their physical activity levels while geocaching. We conducted qualitative interviews with twelve participants to understand their motivation for going geocaching, then completed an ego centric and whole network analysis with a group of individuals in a geocaching association to understand what type of social interactions and group norms are promoted during geocaching. Findings indicate that geocaching is a method of light to moderate physical activity and that individuals rates of physical activity change overtime. The primary motivations for geocaching are fun and enjoyment, skill building, spending time outdoors, exploration, challenge, and gaining knowledge. Geocachers may also receive health benefits from geocaching, but health is not an initial motivation for participation. We also found that geocaching networks develop based on shared interests in geocaching, provide social interactions for participants, and provide emotional and informational support to their members and promote group norms that direct member action. Overall, exergames, specifically geocaching, provide an innovative perspective on physical activity that can be used to enhance individual physical activity levels through fun, social activities.

author list (cited authors)

  • Garney, W. R.

complete list of authors

  • Garney, Whitney R

publication date

  • April 2015