Instrumentation & Measurement Magazine 24-6 - 29

Predicting Engagement in Older
Adults With and Without Dementia
While Playing Mobile Games
Antonio Miguel-Cruz, Adriana Maria Rios Rincon, Christine Daum,
Daniel Alejandro Quiroga Torres, Ruby De Jesus, Lili Liu, and Eleni Stroulia
T
he number of older adults with dementia and related
cognitive impairments continues to rise worldwide.
Decline in certain cognitive skills, memory, and attention
in this population is associated with deterioration in
functioning in daily activities and a reduced quality of life.
Engagement in cognitively stimulating activities can help prevent
cognitive decline in older adults [1]. Research suggests
that regularly playing mobile games could improve several
cognitive functions that naturally deteriorate with age and
even more with dementia. If mobile games are easy-to-use and
engaging enough, they may be a valid intervention and assessment
tool for cognitive functioning in older adults with
cognitive impairment or dementia [2]-[4]. The level of engagement
may influence the therapeutic effect of mobile game
interventions [5]. Engagement is the degree of absorption,
immersion, and involvement in a task. The theoretical foundation
of engagement lies in Flow Theory [6]. Flow has been
described as a subjective state that people report when they are completely
involved in something to the point of forgetting time, fatigue,
and everything else but the activity itself [6]. The literature shows
that engagement is mainly recognized through analyzing participants'
bio-signals, principally in young people [7]-[8]. The
development of methods to recognize engagement in older
adults is needed. The aim of this study was to investigate the
factors that influence engagement in older adults who play
mobile games.
Materials and Methods
Vibrant Minds Platform
Vibrant Minds is an online data-management and game-distribution
platform, conceived to support research studies on
the benefits and effects of Gamification [9]. The platform offers
Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) to enable
developers to register their games with the platform; once
a game is integrated with the platform, the user-interaction
events during gameplay are logged in the platform's database.
Researchers can also deploy studies on the platform by
specifying the games they want to include in the study and the
instruments they need the users to complete; once a study is
defined, the platform automatically collects the game session
logs and the instrument data for analysis.
The games included in this study are Bejeweled, Mahjong,
and Word-Search (http://vibrant-minds.org), shown
in Fig. 1. Bejeweled is a popular pattern-matching game,
whose goal is to move gems to make sequences of (at least)
three of a kind, i.e., same color and shape. Mahjong is popular
pattern matching game of Chinese origin. Its goal is to
match pairs of similar tiles to remove them from the board,
in order to empty the board completely. Word-Search is a traditional
crossword-style puzzle game. The game starts with
a set of word clues and the goal is to find these words hidden
on the board.
Fig. 1. Vibrant Minds Games. (a) Bejeweled; (b) Mahjong; and (c) Word-Search.
September 2021
IEEE Instrumentation & Measurement Magazine
1094-6969/21/$25.00©2021IEEE
29
http://vibrant-minds.org

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