GoodGym Participatory Design Research


The central theme of our research project is to bolster older people’s confidence in engaging with digital technologies through a meaningful integration into their lives. We are working with a local London, UK running club whose members regularly visit isolated older people in their neighborhoods: checking on their well-being, encouraging social interaction, delivering newspapers and doing other helpful jobs. Our research work supports the relationship between the runners and the older people (coaches).
The relationship between the running group’s member and the older people (coaches) provides a platform for building a gaming experience within the community. The challenge is that the coaches in general do not use digital technology (internet, smartphones,). This limitation provides an opportunity for developing a gameful system that both supports the runner/coach relationship and assists integrating digital technology in an older person’s lifestyle in a meaningful way.

GoodGym is a 3-year-old, non-profit organization that fosters the mutually beneficial pairing of runners, who need be motivated to exercise, with older people (coaches), who would benefit from a weekly visit.

The coach (older person) and runner relationship is where we have opportunities for exploring integrating gameplay in older person’s everyday life. The coaches typically do not use Internet and consider mobile phones as a device for emergences only. We are starting with a game system that is tested through paper prototypes where the coaches can award badges and express their encouragement to their runner.

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CHI 2013 Workshop Papers: