Serious games and game-based interventions are increasingly used in older adult research. However, most of these interventions are part of clinical studies, limiting the accessibility of the population that seeks them and importantly, also limiting our understanding of how such games might perform in a community setting. This project aims to observe how a convenience sample of community-dwelling older adults interact with an NIA-funded suite of eye-tracking games, designed to train speed of processing and attention control in older adults. The project engages 20-25 older adults recruited to participate via Boston-area senior-serving community center.
The study measures 1) the ease of use 2) the viability of consistent use and 3) desirability of the games for the sample in order to identify the friction points that the population faces when using these games. This will help to gain insight and direction to improve the efficiency of the technology and the users’ experience.
The research methods of this project include unmoderated usability testing to identify the main pain points of the program and sensor-based technology, interviews, and contextual inquiries into the users’ experience with the product. The qualitative feedback aids in providing context to the in-game metrics throughout the training session. This project also includes surveys to collect participant traits, their expectancy of training results, and understanding potential training effects.
As a pilot project, this research aims to be a first joint project towards developing a long-lasting collaboration towards game design for older adults within Northeastern University’s health sciences, design, theatre and games departments, with prominent faculty across these four departments participating in the project. It also provides an initial empirical evaluation that will be used towards the design of upcoming games by this group, as well as a formal list of design recommendations that can be disseminated towards a wider audience.