Participating in competitive races can be a thrilling experience for athletes, involving a rush of excitement and sensations of flow, achievement, and self-fulfilment. However, for non-athletes, the prospect of competition is often a scary one which affects intrinsic motivation negatively, especially for less fit, less competitive individuals. We propose a novel method making the positive racing experience accessible to non-athletes using a high-intensity cycling VR exergame: by recording and replaying all their previous gameplay sessions simultaneously, including a projected future performance, players can race against a crowd of "ghost" avatars representing their individual fitness journey. The experience stays relevant and exciting as every race adds a new competitor. A longitudinal study over four weeks and a cross-sectional study found that the new method improves physical performance, intrinsic motivation, and flow compared to a non-competitive exergame. Additionally, the longitudinal study provides insights into the longer-term effects of VR exergames.
The ACM CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems