Engagement, enjoyment, and energy expenditure during active video game play

Elizabeth J. Lyons, Deborah F. Tate, Dianne S. Ward, Kurt M. Ribisl, J. Michael Bowling, Sriram Kalyanaraman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

47 Scopus citations


Playing active video games can produce moderate levels of physical activity, but little is known about how these games motivate players to be active. Several psychological predictors, such as perceptions of competence, control, and engagement, may be associated with enjoyment of a game, which has in turn been hypothesized to predict energy expended during play. However, these relationships have yet to be tested in active video games. Method: Young adults aged 18 -35 (N = 97, 50 female) < 300 pounds played a Dance Dance Revolution game for 13 minutes while energy expenditure was measured using indirect calorimetry. Self-reported measures of engagement, perceived competence, perceived control, and enjoyment were taken immediately afterward. Mediation was analyzed using path analysis. Results: A path model in which enjoyment mediated the effects of engagement, perceived competence, and perceived control on energy expenditure and BMI directly affected energy expenditure was an adequate fit to the data, X2(1, N = 97) = .199, p = .655; CFI = 1.00; RMSEA < .001; 90% CI = .000-.206; p = .692. Enjoyment mediated the relationship between engagement and energy expenditure (indirect effect = .138, p = .028), but other mediated effects were not significant. Conclusion: Engagement, enjoyment, and BMI affect energy expended during active video game play. Games that are more enjoyable and engaging may produce greater intensity activity. Developers, practitioners, and researchers should consider characteristics that influence these predictors when creating or recommending active video games.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)174-181
Number of pages8
JournalHealth Psychology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2014


  • Energy expenditure
  • Enjoyment
  • Motivation
  • Physical activity
  • Video game

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


Dive into the research topics of 'Engagement, enjoyment, and energy expenditure during active video game play'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this