Interactive playground game for asthmatic childern

This is a design research project. To encourage asthmatic children to do more physical activities, we designed and developed an interactive playground game to create an immersive and fun playing experience.

Deliverables: Project report

Sep.2016 - Feb.2017

Enschede, Netherland

My role:

User research

Usability testing

Asthmatic children

Asthma is the most common chronic disease in children worldwide, and its prevalence, morbidity, mortality and economic burden have been rising in most countries for the past 4 decades. In the Netherlands there are over 70,000 children suffering from Asthma. Asthmatic children often do not engage in enough physical activities.

Why do asthmatic children lack physical activities

Based on the interview with asthma doctors and two adults who have asthma when they are young kids. Five main reasons are concluded to result in activity reduction of asthmatic patients , including:

  1. The negative attitude: Asthmatic patients have less negative attitudes toward physical activities.
  2. Fear of the diease onset: the physcial activity could stimulate the onset of asthma.
  3. Embarrassment: asthmatic patients feel embarrased about taking medicine in public.
  4. Video games: video games is replacing the role of physical activities.
  5. Subordinate role: asthmatic patients gradually play the subordinate role in the group physical activities.

Game concept

An interactive tagging game ’Air Play‘ was designed to fully engage asthmatic children and encourage their physical activities.

Game concept: Players will be divided into 2 teams, the blue team and the red team. To win the game, a player should chase players from the other team in attempt to ‘catch’ them. A blue player can catch a red player by drawing a closed circle around him. The red player can catch the blue player by tapping on the blue player after collecting enough coins.


The idea of Air Play was firstly tested in a low-fi way (e.g. paper tails to draw circle)to experiment the game flow. When paper testing was passed, we implemented the game on real interactive playground.

The game was implemented with Unity based on a small interactive playground at the University of Twente. We use Unity developed game scene, interaction flow and game interface.


Children between 7-9 were invited to try out Air Play. A follow-up interview was conducted to better understand their game experience.

In our two rounds evaluation, we used Fitbit to record the amont of physcial activities children did in the game. We observe their sweat condition, their collaboration and their movement.

In general, the AIR PLAY game is fun and engaging for children. Based on our observation, it’s helpful for stimulating physical activity during the game.

Overall Learnings

  1. It's hard for children to tell what they really fear or want. Observe children facial expressions and ask them how did they feel are two better ways to find out children' feelings.
  2. Group interview is better for interviewing children because children are less afraid and more likely to talk when they have their friends around.
  3. Gamification design has the broad use in series education and medical treatment.
Designed & Coded by Mengran