Are serious games too serious? Diffusion of wearable technologies and the creation of a diffusion of serious games model

Ton A.M. Spil*, Vincent Romijnders, David Sundaram, Nilmini Wickramasinghe, Björn Kijl

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)
140 Downloads (Pure)


Today globally, more people die from chronic diseases than from war and terrorism. This is not due to aging alone but also because we lead unhealthy lifestyles with little or no exercise and typically consume food with poor nutritional content. This paper proffers the design science research method to create an artefact that can help people study the diffusion of serious games. The ultimate goal of the study is to create a serious game that can help people to improve their balance in physical exercise, nutrition and well-being. To do this, first we conducted 97 interviews to study if wearables can be used for gathering health data. Analysis indicates that designers, manufacturers, and developers of wearables and associated software and apps should make their devices reliable, relevant, and user friendly. To increase the diffusion, adoption, and habitual usage of wearables key issues such as privacy and security need to be addressed as well. Then, we created a paper prototype and conducted a further 32 interviews to validate the first prototype of the game, especially with respect to the diffusion possibilities of the game. Results are positive from a formal technology acceptance point of view showing relevance and usefulness. But informally in the open questions some limitations also became visible. In particular, ease of use is extremely important for acceptance and calling it a game can in fact be an obstruction. Moreover, the artefact should not be patronizing and age differences can also pose problems, hence the title not to make the serious game too serious. Future research plans to address these problems in the next iteration while the future implementation plan seeks for big platforms or companies to diffuse the serious game. A key theoretical contribution of this research is the identification of habit as a potential dependent variable for the intention to use wearables and the development of a diffusion model for serious games. The hedonic perspective is added to the model as well as trust and perceived risks. This model ends the cycle of critical design with an improvement of theory as result contributing to the societal goal of decreasing Obesities and Diabetes.

Original languageEnglish
Article number102202
JournalInternational journal of information management
Early online date18 Aug 2020
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2021


  • UT-Hybrid-D
  • Diffusion
  • Mobile health
  • Serious gaming
  • Wearables
  • Adoption of IT


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