HealthyTogether: Exploring Social Incentives for Mobile Fitness Applications

Abstract

A crucial element in many mobile fitness applications is gamification that makes physical activities fun. While many methods focus on competition and individual users’ interaction with the game, the aspect of social interaction and how users play games together in a group remains an open subject. To investigate these issues, we developed a mobile game, HealthyTogether, to understand how users interact in different group gamification settings: competition, cooperation, social accountability, and teamwork. We conducted a series of user studies involving 40 dyads (N=80) over a period of two months. Results show that users significantly enhanced physical activities using HealthyTogether compared with when they exercised alone . Among the group settings, cooperation outperformed competition; social accountability helps users to enhance their relationship. Furthermore, physical activities are positively correlated with the number of messages they exchanged. Finally, we derive a set of design guidelines for social interfaces and incentives for mobile fitness applications.

Keywords

Mobile fitness applications; gamification; competition; cooperation, group interaction.

Publications

  • Yu Chen and Pearl Pu. HealthyTogether: Exploring Social Incentives for Mobile Fitness Applications. In the second International Symposium of Chinese CHI 2014, Toronto, Canada, Apr. 26-27, 2014 
  • Yu Chen, Jiyong Zhang and Pearl Pu. Exploring Social Accountability and Competition in Pervasive Fitness Applications. The 8th International Conference on Mobile Ubiquitous Computing, Systems, Services and Technologies (UBICOMM2014). Rome, Italy, Aug. 24-28, 2014 (to appear)

Year

2012 – present

Researchers

Yu Chen, Onur Yuruten, Pearl Pu

Sponsor

Swiss National Science Foundation

healthytogether