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Caution regarding exergames: a skill acquisition perspective

journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-18, 19:10 authored by Scott PedersenScott Pedersen, Paul Cooley, Vaughan CruickshankVaughan Cruickshank

Background: The advent of technology use in physical education is upon us. But the implications of using exergames as a substitute for traditional physical education instruction for some students raise questions. Although exergames have the potential to increase energy expenditure and motivation in some children, it is less clear whether they can provide skill acquisition benefits that are similar to those found in traditional physical education.

Purpose: In a previous experiment from our laboratory, we found that deliberate practice can significantly reduce the planning time required for lateral arm movements. The purpose of this study was to determine if exergames can produce a similar effect, by reducing the processing time required for children to initiate arm movements to the contralateral and ipsilateral space.

Participants and setting: Thirty children (boys = 15, girls = 15), between the ages of 7 and 12 years, participated in a pre- and post-test each taking 30 min and one 30 min treatment session in a university laboratory.

Research design: A repeated measures design was employed to test the effects of deliberate laterality practice on processing speed. Children were randomly assigned (n = 10) to either a Nintendo Wii tennis contralateral movement experimental group, Nintendo Wii bowling ipsilateral movement experimental group, or handheld video-game control group. Each child participated in one 30 min treatment session.

Data collection: Upper extremity choice reaction time (RT) was measured through 27 goal-directed aiming movements for each arm separately, during the pre-test and post-test. The stimulus–response trials occurred in three randomly presented directions (ipsilateral, contralateral, and midline).

Data analysis: A 3 (treatment group) × 2 (age group) × 2 (test) × 3 (direction) mixed design analysis of variance with repeated measures on the last two factors was used to test for significant differences, with an alpha level set at 0.05.

Findings: There were no significant treatment effects on RT across all groups indicating that a short bout of exergame training was unsuccessful in improving lateral movement processing.

Conclusions: Deliberate laterality practice using exergames did not improve the motor processing speed of lateral arm movements in the same manner of traditional physical education as indicated by our previous research. Explanations as to why exergames do not exhibit the same positive transfer for skill acquisition as traditional physical education instruction are discussed within this paper.


Publication title

Physical Education and Sport Pedagogy








Faculty of Education



Place of publication

United Kingdom

Rights statement

Copyright 2016 Association for Physical Education

Repository Status

  • Restricted

Socio-economic Objectives

Teaching and instruction technologies

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