Background: Interactive video games are a popular alternative to physical activity in youth. One advancement in computer games are interactive games that use physical activity as a game playing controller, combining exercise and entertainment, or exertainment.
Purpose: This study tested the reinforcing value and activity levels of interactive dance and bicycle race games in 18 overweight and 17 nonoverweight 8- to 12-year-old youth.
Methods: Reinforcing value was studied using a behavioral choice paradigm that provided children the opportunity to respond on progressive ratio schedules of reinforcement for a choice of either playing the video dance or bicycle game using a handheld video game controller or one of three options: dancing or bicycling alone, dancing or bicycling while watching a video, or playing the interactive dance or bicycle game. Reinforcing value was defined in relationship to the amount of responding children engaged in for either choice.
Results: Results showed the interactive dance game was more reinforcing than dancing alone or dancing while watching the video (p = .003), but there was no difference across bicycling conditions. Nonoverweight youth were more active when given the opportunity to play the interactive dance game than overweight children (p = .05).
Conclusions: These results suggest that children may be motivated to be active when given the opportunity to play an interactive dance game.