Brainplay, an investigation of serious games that tap into cognitive processes

  • Michael Saiger

Student thesis: Master's Thesis


Video games are a growing industry, one that is exploring markets such as education, healthcare and society. The problem is that video games, or serious games, for health have yet to make an impact in a commercial market. The question that arises is why healthcare has not adopted video games in health care? Previous work in health and psychology has explored the benefits video games can have on the following: cognitive processes; behaviour; and quality of life. However, the gap in previous research does not consider the development of a serious game for health by commercial game developers or investigate what healthcare professionals perceive a serious game to offer. To approach this gap, this research reviewed the literature on game design frameworks and utilised one specific framework, the mechanics dynamics aesthetics (MDA) framework, to design a set of serious games for health referred to as Brainplay. The study involved three user studies to explore the potential usability and perceived usefulness of the games in the intended context: (i) to understand whether Brainplay was still perceived by the general public as a game and elicited 'play' using a quantitative user experience survey; (ii) to understand whether the MDA framework could be understood by commercial game developers through thematic analysis of one-to-one interviews; (iii) to understand whether healthcare professionals would perceive a potential use for Brainplay in healthcare, again through thematic analysis of one-to-one interviews. The conclusions this thesis can make is that Brainplay still elicited play with the public. Yet, when commercial game developers were interviewed, knowledge and usage of the MDA, or other game design frameworks, did not seem necessary to developing games for health. This thesis also concluded that the three healthcare professionals interviewed, from different background of healthcare, perceived different purposes for Brainplay within healthcare.
Date of Award14 Sep 2018
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University Of Strathclyde
SupervisorMarilyn Lennon (Supervisor) & Martin Halvey (Supervisor)

Cite this