Prose Fiction as a Narrative Companion for a Vegetable Parenting Videogame

Games Health J. 2015 Aug;4(4):305-11. doi: 10.1089/g4h.2014.0143. Epub 2015 Apr 14.


Objective: The purpose of this research is to explore the capacity of story to connect to a health-related videogame, as well as the qualities that may increase efficacy by making the story compelling. Parents of 3-5-year-old children often report difficulty getting their children to eat vegetables, which are protective against chronic illnesses. Videogames may be vehicles for training parenting practices for successful vegetable consumption outcomes but often rely on stories to provide context and details. Unfortunately, storytelling may interrupt immersion and player agency. Delivering stories outside of gameplay may provide an understanding of game situations while maintaining immersion.

Materials and methods: Two companion storylines (one a romantic adventure and the other a suspenseful fantasy) were generated for a vegetable parenting game, "Mommio," targeting mothers of preschool children. Mothers of 3-5-year-old children (n=18) read both storylines and completed semistructured interviews.

Results: Mothers preferred the romantic adventure, which featured strong characters, relatable issues, and an engaging plot. Most mothers were interested in playing the "Mommio" videogame after reading the stories.

Conclusions: Results suggest that it is possible for prose literature to both motivate gameplay and be an immersive narrative companion to, but separate from, games for health. This literature should include engaging, realistic stories and relatable strong characters.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Child Rearing / psychology
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Food Preferences
  • Health Promotion / methods*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mothers / education*
  • Mothers / psychology*
  • Narration
  • Parenting / psychology
  • Reading*
  • Vegetables
  • Video Games / psychology*