A Qualitative Examination of Exergame Motivations in Geocaching.
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INTRODUCTION: Exergames are an innovative type of physical activity that engages participants through interactive gameplay. One exergame growing in popularity is geocaching. Geocaching is a high-tech treasure hunt that uses GPS-enabled technology to locate hidden caches. Caches are hidden all over the world, and their coordinates are listed in an online forum ( Geocaching.com ). Exergames like geocaching are widely endorsed; however, there is a lot of information that still needs to be learned about why people participate in these activities. MATERIALS AND METHODS: Thirty-four current geocachers were recruited from a larger geocaching study to learn about their motivations for engaging in the game. Individuals were asked to respond to a 30-minute phone interview, and 12 both consented and participated the interviews. Interviews assessed how individuals became involved in geocaching, how frequently they participated, who they went geocaching with, and their motivations behind geocaching. Interviews were recorded and then thematically coded. RESULTS: The majority of participants had geocached for more than 5 years and had learned about the activity through media. All 12 participants geocached at least once a week. The primary motivations behind geocaching were being outdoors, social interaction, physical activity, and relaxation. Individuals described geocaching as being part of a community. They typically made friends while geocaching or when they were on Geocaching.com and felt connected to other geocachers through their mutual interest. CONCLUSIONS: Geocaching and other exergames that use game-like properties to engage users, specifically though technology, have the potential to impact individual health through nontraditional methods of activity and socialization.