The Use of Videogames, Gamification, and Virtual Environments in the Self-Management of Diabetes: A Systematic Review of Evidence

Games Health J. 2015 Oct;4(5):352-61. doi: 10.1089/g4h.2014.0114. Epub 2015 May 26.


The use of videogames in healthcare interventions is gaining popularity, but there is still a gap in the understanding on how these types of interventions are used for the management of diabetes. The purpose of this review is to examine published research on the use of videogames for diabetes management. With the increased use of mobile technology, the review was expanded to understand whether games, gamification, and virtual environments can be used for diabetes self-management. Out of the 307 articles identified, only 10 articles met the inclusion criteria of the study. The duration of most studies was short, with small sample sizes. All interventions targeted behavioral changes examining risk reduction of diabetes-related risk and promotion of healthy behavior among study participants. Videogames appeared to be helpful tools for education in some interventions, whereas gamification and virtual environments increased extrinsic motivation and provided positive reinforcement. This review concludes by discussing the potential of using videogames and gamification for the self-management of diabetes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Diabetes Mellitus / therapy*
  • Exercise
  • Female
  • Health Behavior*
  • Health Promotion / methods*
  • Humans
  • Insulin / therapeutic use
  • Internet
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mobile Applications*
  • Motivation*
  • Self Care / psychology*
  • Self Care / statistics & numerical data*
  • User-Computer Interface
  • Video Games*


  • Insulin