Design perspectives on diabetes management games
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For decades, there has been scholarly interest in the use of serious digital games to assist individuals suffering from diabetes with the self-management of that disease. However, previous research in this area has not effectively integrated the knowledge of the expert game designer. This dissertation aims to further understandings of design approaches to serious games for diabetics by confronting both the arguments of the diabetes games literature and the diabetes games themselves with the experiences and opinions of expert game designers. The arguments of the diabetes games literature were synthesized into a design template composed of twenty-four interrelated desirable elements. This template was then used by three focus groups consisting of a total of twelve expert game designers to both evaluate six diabetes self-management games and respond to the assertions of the diabetes games literature. The findings from these three empirical studies indicate both that the diabetes games themselves are of uniformly unsuitable quality and that the diabetes games literature is rife with what the expert game designers consider to be problematic assumptions. The problems identified by the focus groups include those that fundamentally cripple the functionality of the game artifact, those that are embedded in a game’s rules and themes, and those to those that exist at superficial levels. Furthermore, the focus groups had an overall negative reaction to the arguments about games that they found to be deeply embedded in the design template’s elements. Tensions exist, however, between the reasons for the diabetes games literature’s demand for certain game features and the beliefs of the expert game designers. The findings strongly suggest that additional research is necessary and that an interdisciplinary effort, including both health care professionals and expert game designers, is necessary for the development of new, superior design scenarios for diabetes self-management games.