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Games 4 Health

What motivates people in their 20s to improve their amount of physical activity in a Dutch urban environment?


Rick Borgeld

Interaction Designer / Researcher

Paula Barreto

Marketeer/ researcher

Karen de Graaf


Suzanne Tromp




The Diary

This week started with some really good steps. First, our group was in charge of the lunch on monday, so we went to Rick’s place to make dutch pancakes for everybody. Second, Gijs came to us to say that Marco was better and coming to the lab, what made our day great. And last, but not least, we, together with Marco, had an idea of how to know more about our target group, a diary.

Basically, the idea of the diary is that ten people in their 20s will keep track of their daily routine during five days. We’ve picked people with different lives. There is someone who has children, someone who still studies at University, and someone who is working full time. We didn’t want the diary to be just a boring task, so we made sure that it looks pretty and fun to do. Below you will find one of the pages.

Screen Shot 2013-10-10 at 10.17.59 AM

In the ‘what’ section people will write what they have been doing at that specific time. Below that, in the ‘How’ section, they will write down how they got there, for example by bicycle or car. In the bottom they will fill in their mood by using a smiley. At the end of the page they will have to mark the overall mood of the day, write down the best part of the day and how the weather was that day. To make the diary more fun, we’ve put some fun facts and memes in it.

We hope to find out what is the daily routine of people in their 20s with this qualitative research. After they’ve finished the five days, we will interview them to get more insight on their activities that week.

We specifically haven’t told the diary-users that we are working on a health project, because we feel this will bias the results of our research.

Our visit to NISB

Friday we went to the NISB in Ede to meet our partner for the second time. After arriving at the NISB we got a small tour through the office. It a regular office with different rooms, but a place where people could work everywhere. Nobody (except for our partner) has a fixed spot. Health is an essential part in the office as well, different work-out opportunities were available like a treadmill with a desk in front of it and small ping pong tables.

Screen Shot 2013-10-03 at 4.05.17 PM

We talked to Ben Weghorst from the library and he has send us some really helpful information about health and possible target groups. The meeting with our partner was very fruitful as well. After talking to him we tweaked our research question a bit and came up with the following:

What motivates people in their 20s to improve their amount of physical activity in a Dutch urban environment?

Our target group will be people in a Dutch urban environment between the age of 20 to 30. We, our partner and us, feel that this group is very interesting, because they will face a big change in their routine in this phase of life. They will go from student to having a job and maybe a family as well. It is known that big changes in life will change behaviour, and that things like physical activities will have a smaller priority than before. We think it will be interesting to fit being physically active in the busy schedules of this target group.

At first, we will explore the city of Amsterdam as an example for the Dutch urban environment. Later we will focus on other big cities in The Netherlands too.

Now we are busy doing our research and answering our sub questions in order to answer our main question. We will keep you updated!foto (2)

Get well soon

Last week started with bad news: our coach Marco found out that he needed unexpected surgery. This meant that we have to go on without him for a little while, so he can recover properly. We miss him a lot and in order to show that, we made a CD with everybody’s favorite song here at the MediaLAB. In addition to that we’ve made a video of everybody saying “Get well soon” in their own language, which gave some very surprising and funny results (Shin!). You could say we take care of people getting healthy in a multifunctional way (we also try to share our carrots with everyone in the office here, but the others do not like it as much as we do).

You can find the spotify playlist over here.

On wednesday we had a meeting with Margreet. She wrote her thesis about using quantified self for daily activities and which ways are the most useful to present the info provided by self-tracking. For her research she especially dived into the use of Fitbits, which we are now using. The Fitbits track your step count on a daily basis and they estimate the amount of calories you burnt so far. We made a group consisting of the four of us, so we’re able to see how much the others walked the last 7 days and can try to get to the top of the chart. However, we found out that in the first day this resulted in everybody walking around in the office trying to get more steps, but later on we didn’t care much about who had the highest step count anymore. The most annoying part was that it didn’t accurately track cycling, still counting it as walking or not tracking it at all. For us this means that if we want to use the quantified self, we have to find out a more interesting and accurate way to present the self-tracking information.

It’s not you, it’s me

Yesterday Marco gave a really fun and helpful workshop about User/Design Research. He taught us about different research methods and books we could use. Also, all the teams presented their research question and subquestions. It was interesting to see what the other teams came up with and what problems they had formulating their questions. Some were quite similar to our problems.

One assignment we had to do during the workshop was writing a breakup letter to a product or service we started to dislike. It was a fun way to discover what things we first liked about the product, and later started to dislike.

For example, Karen wrote to her Android phone (she’s gotten herself an iPhone 5 now):

Dear old Android phone,

I know you are going through a difficult time, now your screen is broken and you are turning off at random times, but I don’t accept these kinds of behaviour anymore, it is giving me a hard time as well. You’ve let me down too many times. I kind of liked that I didn’t have to care too much about you, but I don’t think you have enough to offer me. I also want to take pretty photos and be able to use the apps they offer for iPhones. And now we’re talking about other phones, I have to tell you there already is another phone in my life. I want you to know that I’m not kicking you out of the house, but I don’t want to use you anymore.

Kind regards,


Suzanne wrote about her laptop (Dell):

Dear laptop,

I know we have a long history together, but we need to talk. This isn’t working anymore. At first you were a good looking and really active computer, but now you won’t even get out of my bed anymore. It seems like you’ve become heavier and heavier. When I’m working I’m forced to hook up with others. I know you love to get hot and steamy and like to make a lot of noise, but I’m not in that kind of stuff anymore. I can’t bring you to fun places because you are simply too fat.

I’m really sorry that I have to tell you this, but I’ve fallen in love with someone fitter and more beautiful..



Later this week, we hopefully will have a skype conversation with our partner to discuss the research questions. We think this will help us go on with our research.

Problem definition and the beginning of the research

Brainstorm session by Charlie Mulholland

Wednesday we had a problem and requirements workshop with Charlie Mulholland, a professor at the University of Applied Sciences Amsterdam. During the workshop the goal was to clearly understand the problem that was given to us, not only through the eyes of the user but also through the eyes of the other stakeholders.

For starters we had to identify the partner, their customer, our user and what the partner asked us to do and write an initial problem statement about it. During the assignment, Charlie would help us writing the problem statement and help us identify our stakeholders. We came up with: “How can we motivate people who are not healthy enough to do more physical activity in a playful and fun way?”. The second assignment was to define the problem more clearly using the 5W’s and 1H: “Who, What, Where, When, Why and How”. The last assignment was to brainstorm about stakeholders, categorize them, select the three most important and write a problem statement for each of them.

This workshop helped us a lot with our problem and on what we have to focus on. After the workshop we brainstormed some more about our research question, stakeholders and requirements. Because of this, the research question has already changed a few times and will probably change some more the following weeks.

A day at NEMO

Also, in the end of the week we went to NEMO Science Center to do some research. We started asking the kids why they like NEMO and what they learn from the games and experiments over there. It was great for us to see that the kids prefer the games that gave them feedback, because then they could see what happened when they changed something. We also talked with the parents over there and they gave us some really good information too. For example, one mom said that her son only plays with something if he has company, without a friend to share the experience or to compete with, the little guy gave up.

What we learned from our little research at NEMO was that the motivation for people to play with things is that there should be a little bit of competition or something that you should do together to reach your goal. Also, feedback from the experiments was really important, if the child couldn’t see what happened when he played with the experiment, he would lose his interest. This information can be useful in our research about what motivates people to get active.


During the weeks that are coming up we will keep redefining our problem and research all the stakeholders intensively. When we have defined our problem, we will present it to our partner.

Kick-off week

This week we started with the Kick-Off at MediaLAB. We got to know our teammates, colleagues and all the projects. Our project will be Games 4 Health for the next five months and we are really excited to make it happen.

Our first assignment was to think about a Userscene. The ‘Userscene’ portrays some specific user moments of a target audience. So we came up with three different Userscenes. The first user is the person that is already healthy but wants to learn more about it and get healthier. The second one wants to be healthy but puts other priorities first, or is just waiting for someone to take him/her out. The last person doesn’t really think about getting healthy, and won’t really think it is necessary to work out or eat better.

For our video we chose to portray the second user, because we think this is the person who is more open to options. These users are thinking about getting healthy, but maybe they just don’t know where to start or they need someone to trigger them. Also, we think that the biggest problem is for people to get out of their houses and really do it, not just think about it. In the video you can see someone who is arriving at home from work and all his options are open. Will he stay with his roommate and play some games or will he go with run with the girl and have some drinks? Our user is facing a dilemma that a lot of people face everyday. Our job eventually is to create something that will stimulate the user to do physical activities, e.g. dance classes, because it’s fun and healthy. So the main question is: “Should I stay or should I go?”.

At Monday we met our partner. The NISB is the National Institute for Sports and Physical Activities. We had a lot of things and ideas to talk about, and we are very happy that the NISB is open for all kinds of outcomes, not just one technology. Later in the week we had a very inspiring Makey Makey workshop where we built our own interactive game like a big Tetris and a Dance Dance Revolution.

We are looking forward to creating the research question in the following days and presenting it to our partner.