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Title: Balancing the playing field : collaborative gaming for physical training
Authors: Mace, Michael
Kinany, Nawal
Rinne, Paul
Rayner, Anthony
Bentley, Paul
Burdet, Etienne
Keywords: DRNTU::Engineering::Mechanical engineering
Social Interaction
Issue Date: 2017
Source: Mace, M., Kinany, N., Rinne, P., Rayner, A., Bentley, P., & Burdet, E. (2017). Balancing the playing field : collaborative gaming for physical training. Journal of NeuroEngineering and Rehabilitation, 14, 116-.
Series/Report no.: Journal of NeuroEngineering and Rehabilitation
Abstract: Background: Multiplayer video games promoting exercise-based rehabilitation may facilitate motor learning, by increasing motivation through social interaction. However, a major design challenge is to enable meaningful inter-subject interaction, whilst allowing for significant skill differences between players. We present a novel motor-training paradigm that allows real-time collaboration and performance enhancement, across a wide range of inter-subject skill mismatches, including disabled vs. able-bodied partnerships. Methods: A virtual task consisting of a dynamic ball on a beam, is controlled at each end using independent digital force-sensing handgrips. Interaction is mediated through simulated physical coupling and locally-redundant control. Game performance was measured in 16 healthy-healthy and 16 patient-expert dyads, where patients were hemiparetic stroke survivors using their impaired arm. Dual-player was compared to single-player performance, in terms of score, target tracking, stability, effort and smoothness; and questionnaires probing user-experience and engagement. Results: Performance of less-able subjects (as ranked from single-player ability) was enhanced by dual-player mode, by an amount proportionate to the partnership’s mismatch. The more abled partners’ performances decreased by a similar amount. Such zero-sum interactions were observed for both healthy-healthy and patient-expert interactions. Dual-player was preferred by the majority of players independent of baseline ability and subject group; healthy subjects also felt more challenged, and patients more skilled. Conclusion: This is the first demonstration of implicit skill balancing in a truly collaborative virtual training task leading to heightened engagement, across both healthy subjects and stroke patients.
ISSN: 1743-0003
DOI: 10.1186/s12984-017-0319-x
Rights: © 2017 The Author(s). This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.
Fulltext Permission: open
Fulltext Availability: With Fulltext
Appears in Collections:MAE Journal Articles

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