Efficacy of online multi-player versus single-player exergames on adherence behaviors among children: A nonrandomized control trial

Maximus Kaos, Mark R. Beauchamp, Shelly Bursick, Amy E. Latimer‐Cheung, Hamilton Hernandez, Darren E. R. Warburton, Christopher Yao, Zi Ye, T. C. Nicholas Graham, Ryan E Rhodes

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Background Exergames have the potential to significantly increase physical activity in children. Studies to date have shown mixed results and often rely on self-reported data. Multi-player gaming may augment participation. Purpose The purpose of the study was to examine children's adherence behaviors in multi-player online exergames compared to a single-player condition within a home environment. Methods Seventy-two children, aged 9-12 years, who were not meeting physical activity guidelines at baseline, were allocated to the multi-player or single-player condition. Six-week cycle-based exergaming trials took place 5 day/week in the early evening with online game supervision. Bike use was objectively recorded via game logs. Results Adherence was high throughout the trial. Play session duration was M = 37.65 (SD = 15.39) min/day, and overall play duration was M = 133.45 (SD = 81.27) min in Week 1 and M = 77.23 (SD = 84.09) min in Week 6. Total physical activity was significantly higher at 6 weeks compared to baseline (p = .01, ν p 2 = .13). There was no significant difference in play duration between conditions (p = .57, ν p 2 = .01). Conclusion This trial objectively demonstrated that exergames can promote high adherence levels. Multiplayer capabilities did not augment adherence levels. Introducing new games throughout the trial may have motivated participants to keep playing, regardless of whether play was against real or artificial opponents. Weekly play duration decreased due to a significant drop in play frequency. For children who enjoy exergames, innovative solutions to promote more frequent exergame play are needed. Clinical This Registration NCT02032667.

Original languageEnglish
JournalAnnals of Behavioral Medicine
Issue number10
Pages (from-to)878–889
Publication statusPublished - 13. Sept 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Exergame
  • Adherence
  • Multi-player
  • Children
  • Home Environment
  • Nonrandomized Control Trial
  • Home environment
  • Nonrandomized control trial
  • Child Behavior/psychology
  • Exercise/psychology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Video Games/psychology
  • Canada
  • Patient Compliance/psychology
  • Female
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care
  • Bicycling/psychology
  • Child


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