Narratives for Elderly Games Interaction Design

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Project Team

  • Project Lead: Sharon Lynn Chu PhD candidate
  • Dr. Francis Quek Professor, Center for HCI
  • Dr. Henry Been-Lirn Duh IDMI, National University of Singapore
  • Design team at MIME Lab, IDMI, NUS

Note: This is a recently completed project that is currently dormant

Project Overview

Being embodied beings who are situated in time, temporal structures are essential for us to make sense of our activities and daily life in general. This gains greater importance as we age and accumulate experiences. Research has shown that we tend to make use of narratives, which are an intimate part of our lives, for sensemaking. It is a well-known fact that current interfaces are not very amenable to the elderly. Even with initial motivation and persistence, many older adults have difficulty to make sense of the interfaces of modern systems, which seem to them too convoluted due to their lack of familiarity with conventions and the subject matter. This research investigates whether and how familiar temporal structures, notably narratives, can be harnessed to design better interfaces and systems for the elderly. We address this question within the domain of mobile games, which, some have claimed, have great potential to engage the older adult in mental stimulation and other health benefits.

The first study in this research project investigates the impact of narrative structure on the enjoyment level of older game players, based on behavioral research suggesting that older adults tend to process text better at discourse level. Two variations of a casual memory mobile game were built, one with a narrative and the other one without. Nineteen senior citizens, differentiated according to their play orientation, play-tested the games. Results show that embedding narratives in mobile games enhances the play experience of older adults, irrespective of their play style. This may have implications both for game developers and for seniors' acceptance of casual games.

Related Publications

Chu Yew Yee, S. L., Duh, H. B. L. and Quek, F. (2010). Investigating Narrative in Mobile Games for Seniors. In Proc. of CHI ‘10, 28th ACM Conf. on Human Factors in Computing Systems, pp. 669-672, Atlanta, GA, USA. ACM. This paper has been awarded an Honorable Mention for Best Paper at CHI.