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RUN: Exercise and Exploration Through Gamification Senior Capstone 2014 Kenneth Mascaro Industrial Design Student The University of the Arts


RUN: Exercise and Exploration Through Gamification Though many college students fear “the freshman fifteen,� research shows there is a substantial decrease in physical activity (PA) during the transition from adolescence into adulthood. RUN, a mobile application that utilizes gamification, encourages running and exploration in urban environments among college students.

KENNETH MASCARO - Lead Designer ALEXANDRA SCHMIDT-ULLRICH - Studio Advisor + Professor, The University of the Arts

JON GREY - Professional Advisor + Professional Runner, Team USA MN

BRIDGET IRELAN - Professional Advisor + Residence Life Coordinator, The University of the Arts


I have always been a fairly active person. Whether I’m on my skateboard or the running trail, I always try to keep myself in shape and moving. I have found that through being physically active I can work harder, push myself, and strive to achieve greater things than I could if I were not as active. Running has had a large impact on my life and I wanted to understand how other people were affected by physical activity.




16 - 29 30 - 37 38 - 43 44 - 51

Interviews Surveys Gamification and Motivation Precedents

52 - 59 60 - 71 72 - 83

Concept Development Concept Testing Application Development

84 - 89 90 - 101 102 - 103

Design Refinement Final Concept + Design Appendix




WHY DID YOU DECIDE TO START RUNNING? Most likely your answer includes feeling better physically, mentally, emotionally. Running is among the best aerobic exercises for physical conditioning of your heart and lungs. Studies have shown the health benefits to be enormous, reducing the likelihood of everything from the common cold to cancer. Your stamina will increase. You’ll lose weight; most beginners lose nearly a pound a week. Just as important, running -- like many forms of exercise -- is a great cure for stress, emotional strain, even mild depression. You’ll likely find yourself with fewer headaches and more energy, patience, humor and creativity. Studies have found that healthy adults who exercise regularly are generally happier than those who don’t.

I wanted to search for that motivation and that meaning within running. I wanted to know what some of those driving forces were and what running culture was all about. My initial search / key terms included: Running Motivation Inspiration Time management Products Running locations Running paths Exercise

And running, quite simply, is convenient. You don’t need any elaborate gear. No special playing field or apparatus. No need to juggle the schedules of others. Just a pair of shoes and the inclination to get out the door.


1 in 3 young adults (18 - 24) in the United States attend college.

In a study assessing

cardiovascular health

among college students, nearly


of participants reported

high or very high stress. Research has shown a substantial decrease in physical activity (PA) during the transition from adolescence into adulthood. This behavioral change is of particular importance because lack of PA is one of the top three modifiable risk factors of chronic disease and premature death. American Journal of Health Promotion


BORN TO RUN Born to Run is a non-fictional book written by Christopher McDougall. Christopher writes about his journeys to discover the secrets of the Tarahumara Indians, who are a group of people capable of supposedly running hundreds of miles without injuries or rest. In the process, he takes the reader to various places where running is culturally prominent. Through reading this book, I found that the Tarahumara run because it is something that has been part of their culture forever and they never get bored from it. It shows how they have adopted a way of living out of something that some use as a simple form of exercise.

Reading this book makes me really think about how I could potentially create a way to prompt our culture to adopt a new way of living similar to that of the Tarahumara. How might I encourage someone without the natural inclination to habitually exercise to do so? When comparing our technology-based culture with the Tarahumara, who are the complete opposite, it is easy to see that they seem to be more active and free than we are.


“Believe that you can run farther or faster. Believe that you’re young enough, old enough, strong enough, and so on to accomplish everything you want to do. Don’t let worn-out beliefs stop you from moving beyond yourself.” - John Bingham, running speaker and writer



Takeaways: - Jeff’s story truly opened my eyes to the effects that exercise and being aware of one’s own health can have on people. - Jeff understood his own motivation and what effects that had on him both physically and mentally.

JEFFREY PARK - Industrial designer - Active; runner and snowboarder

- He changed his attitude towards being active in order to not experience these effects. - He then learned how to remain consistent with this exercise routine.

“If you participate in sports that push you mentally and physically from early on, you become accustomed to feeling pain – muscle aches, dehydration, etc., – but you feel good. When I entered high school, I experienced laziness. In the winter, I would go for months without exercise and the repercussion was drastic: Low energy, procrastination, terrible diet, bad skin, deflated mood. I’m not saying these are the direct effects of being lazy, but for me, it made a huge difference. Once I started exercising (running) again, all of my negative habits straightened out. Since I was able to experience the two sides, I know that if one or more of the bad habits appear, I suck at life. So my motivation is to feel energized, productive, healthy, etc. Once I get a few weeks of consistent exercise and I feel all the positive things that follow, my motivation is to keep that streak going.”


Takeaways: - Lauren is very poetic when explaining what inspires and motivates her. - Lauren is very determined and competitive when it comes to running. - She enjoys both the social aspects of running and the feeling of independence.

LAUREN PETERS - Nursing student - 21 years old - Ran cross-country in high school

- She has a set schedule for running which helps her stay on track. - Poor weather affects whether or not she is motivated to run. - Though she’s had injuries in the past, she has never let them stop her from running.


Takeaways: - Joe has a consistent schedule for staying in shape. - He tries to find a balance between running by himself and running with others, though he seems to run more by himself. - He sometimes gets bored with running.


- Like Lauren, poor weather conditions affect his motivation to run.

- Accounting student - 21 years old - Ran track in high school


(Bridget and her brother, Patrick)

Takeaways: - Bridget exercises according to schedules she sets to train for events (like the Disney Marathon, which she recently ran). - She doesn’t want too many extra things to carry with her when she runs.

BRIDGET IRELAN - Residence Life Coordinator for the University of the Arts

- She loves her running shoes and doesn’t mind spending money on them to ensure quality. - Bridget views running as time to be alone. - She also enjoys yoga and combat workouts. - She experiences a loss of motivation after running a big marathon. - Sticking to a training plan has really helped her with this lack of motivation. - Bridget wasn’t very driven to run until after college.


Takeaways: - Jon runs approximately 80 - 90 miles a week. - Bad weather affects him a lot and he hates the winter, which is especially cold where he lives. - He doesn’t like the treadmill, but will make sacrifices sometimes just so he can run.


- Jon doesn’t carry a lot of technology while running.

- Professional runner for Team USA Minnesota - 25 years old - Has a twin brother who runs, as well

- Jon uses, which is a website that helps users figure out routes and track activity. - Like Lauren, Jon is also very poetic when describing why he runs. - Even after three hip surgeries, Jon hasn’t stopped running. - He prefers running in smaller groups or alone. - He is currently trying to incorporate a workout schedule into his life to keep himself on track. - Jon says that all runners deal with a lack of motivation at some point in their lives.


By mapping similarities and differences among my interviewees, I came up with three categories of runners: Experienced runner Average runner (shown above) Novice runner


Takeaways: - Shown to the left were the consistencies that were discovered between each of the interviewees. - Receiving this sort of feedback helped me gain an even greater understanding as to what may or may not motivate people to run, as well as what allows these particular runners to keep up with their running routine. - The change in weather can be a major issue for runners. - Most of these people run by themselves or in smaller groups. - A set visual or mental schedule seems to be present for each person.





“It takes a lot of energy that I don’t have.”

“Well, if I’m feeling depressed or fatigue, I find it hard to motivate myself to be physical.”

“Not having a good place to work out, like gym equipment or trails to run on.”

“Gyms here are expensive, there is not one on campus.”

“Laziness. I also get sick a lot, so that fucks up any routine that I may have established, and it’s hard to get back into it.”

“Having too much homework and a lack of sleep.” “Too much schoolwork to do, I don’t even have enough time to sleep.” “Feeling tired and being mentally exhausted.” “Being too tired mentally or physically.” “Lack of time. School is the killer.” “Netflix!” “Injuries.” “Family.” “Not enough time for it because of homework.” “My schedule and being tired.” Being extremely lazy. I would much rather lay in bed and watch Netflix than go for a run.”

“The gym is too far away, we need one on campus that is free.” “Being tired.” “Too much work and not enough time.” “Gaining weight.” “Loss of motivation, looking at other people’s physical attributes and being disappointed in your own.” “Figuring out when to shower and eat throughout the day. If I shower in the morning, I’m much less likely to exercise later. (This is lesser to previously mentioned conflicts like time and temperature)” “Working out is boring.” “School work.” “Having no energy.”

“Being tired after classes.”

“Acid reflux.”

“Committing to a specific time and place to work out.”

“No gym.”

“Not getting enough sleep and not eating well makes it very difficult to be physically active.”

Survey Analysis:

Students from all four class years at the University of the Arts were surveyed. The survey consisted of ten questions asking students about their levels of physical activity. The question to the right was only one of the ten, but I felt it gave me the most valuable information.

Because UArts does not have a gym on campus, students here seem to have a hard time finding a good place to be active. They also need a place the fits their needs: Something close, free, and easy. In a perfect situation, it should be something just as easy and appealing as Netflix: something that lures them in and might even offer a reward system. The reward system in my mind immediately brings up aspects of games and the technique of gamifying. Response: - Research more statistics on the level of physical activity among college students. - Research gamification.




Visiting the National Museum of Play helped me understand where gaming and play stem from. The museum had everything from this life-size Sorry (shown above) to “games� that could make you cry.


The National Museum of Play in Rochester, New York, has just about every game you could imagine. As I wandered through the museum, I found various games that brought back some wonderful childhood memories. The combination of nostalgia with posted scientific research on play really helped me understand how play can be manufactured. The images on the left are quotes from the museum. I feel that these three in particular are significant to my project.




GAMIFICATION COURSE University of Pennsylvania This free, online course was taught through the University of Pennsylvania. I took this course during the spring semester and really got a lot out of it. The course taught me about the components, mechanics, and dynamics of gamification, as well as how to use each of these in my own system.

Kevin Werbach University of Pennsylvania - Associate Professor of Legal Studies and Business Ethics Education: JD, Harvard University, 1994; BA, University of California at Berkeley, 1991


(Transition of Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs into Dan Pink’s motivators and how they are then applied within game mechanics and game dynamics)

GAMIFICATION 101: THE PSYCHOLOGY OF MOTIVATION In this article, Michael Wu, Ph.D. digs into the dynamics of group behavior and social interaction via gamification. Human behavior is a result of the precise temporal convergence of three factors: 1. Motivation: the person wants desperately to perform the behavior (i.e. he is highly motivated) 2. Ability: the person can easily carry out the behavior (i.e. he considers the behavior very simple) 3. Trigger: the person is triggered to do the behavior (i.e. he is cued, reminded, asked, called to action, etc.) Game mechanics and game dynamics are able to positively influence human behavior because they are designed to drive the players above the activation threshold and then trigger them into specific actions. In other words, successful gamification is all about making these three factors occur at the same time.

Takeaways: - This article furthered my understanding of gamification and how it works as a model. - This model can definitely be applied to my project in a way that would encourage college students to try out any activities I set up for them: Advertise or prompt them with a reward, create a point system to follow, and give them a sense of belonging (ie. this is for everyone). - Students at UArts are busy and flustered with school work, so I need to make sure this system is not only appealing, but also beneficial to them. - Image is important to the students, as well, so I need to create a community that is supportive, regardless of what their level of activity is or what others think of them: Incorporate strategies into the game that support this (ie. just because you’re quick doesn’t mean you’re going to win).




(Participants of the November Project running up steps during one of their regular meets)

Being physically active with others provides camaraderie, even if personal motivation is lagging. The November Project provides such a community because their main message is that it doesn’t matter what your skill level is. You just have to show up. Group-based activities present an alternative form of running that caters to those who aren’t as internally motivated to run. The advertisement on the previous page is for New Balance’s Runnovation campaign. This inspirational image is their way of promoting how awesome running is.

Exercise group co-founded by Brogan Graham and Bojan Mandaric in Boston, Massachusetts.

City Sports has a running club that meets every Thursday at 6 p.m. on Walnut Street.


The Zombie Run takes place around the country and is a very unique example of how runners have incorporated themes into their exercise. This run is typically 3.1 miles long and consists of obstacles such as mud pits, barriers, and, of course, zombies. Outrun them and stay alive!


Takeaways: - The obstacles that runners have to overcome during this race present a new challenge and experience. - There is a strong sense of community. - This could be an alternative to running being “boring,” as some said in the UArts surveys. - There is not only a sense of community and fun, but also elements of gamification:

- There are life flags that you wear (seen in top image) that you want to keep the zombies from grabbing.

- Even if you run out of the life flags, you aren’t out of the race, an element that keeps everyone involved.

- The idea of the flags provides external motivation for those who wish to further challenge themselves.


Nike+ Running

Nike SB


Zombies, Run!

- Home screen with main stats - “Run” button = quick start - Tracks distance, time, etc. - Point system = Nike Fuel - Able to connect with friends

- Build profile - “Play S.K.A.T.E.” button = quick start - Badges - Learn from others = videos, tutorials, etc.

- Simple linear tracking - Tracks distance, method of transportation, time, and location - Simple calendar with measurements - Shows variations between walking, running, etc. = varying bubble colors

- Narrative element - No run history? - “Slide to run” button = quick start - Progression = building up city - Shows running distance/time after the current run or challenge is completed


Takeaways: - There were consistencies between each app that I aimed to incorporate into my own application.


















Thinking: - What do the students need? - Food? - Books? - Art Supplies? - Rewards? - After analyzing these concepts, I chose to pursue the idea of running for rewards.




(Solmssen Court - Hamilton Hall the University of the Arts)

CONCEPT TESTING Candy Cane Race - Independent Race I created a new game simply to see if I could get others to participate. Though this concept was derived from the idea of a reward system, which was prominent in a few of my concepts, the main focus was to have an event take place indoors locally. Candy canes were used as the “tokens” because this test was administered during the holiday season.

This concept is really about figuring out what works and what doesn’t. I want to see how people respond in groups and how they react to challenges I present them with.

The candy canes were placed on each of the three levels of catwalks for students to collect: 2nd floor - green candy canes (2 points each) 3rd floor - red candy canes (3 points each) 4th floor - blue candy canes (5 points each) The top 3 people who collected the most points received a $5.00 Starbucks gift card. (Note: The blue candy canes on the top floor were hidden to provide some variety and an extra level of difficulty when racing to the top)





(Freshman, Corrine Janelle Evans, filling out a survey on the game)

CONCEPT ANALYSIS After the students did the race and rewards were handed out, I had the users fill out a brief evaluation on the game. It consisted of these questions: 1. What was your favorite aspect of the game? 2. What did you dislike about the game? 3. What motivated you to come and play the games? (ie. for the candy canes, the gift cards, physical health, etc.) 4. If this was your game, what would you do differently? 5. Would you rather have this game be team-based or every person for themselves?

Takeaways: - The students are very competitive – much more competitve than I had thought they were going to be. - The reward system works in terms of motivation. - Students became so invested in the game that they actually began conceptualizing suggestions for how to improve upon it. - The varying answers that I received from this game correspond well with the initial answers I received from the runners I interviewed (elements of competitiveness and independence). - Someone actually said that their favorite aspect of the game was running.




APPLICATION SYSTEM I began looking into the system within the application to understand what I wanted it to do.

I took the consistencies from my precedents and combined them with aspects of gamification in order to begin resolving this system.

The elements I was looking into were: Challenges Points / Badges Live Map (Levels)


Functionality One of the aspects I initially looked into was the functionality of the application and how someone interacts with it. I examined how someone could create their own profile, as well as how a map might function as the home screen.


Aesthetic I conceptualized various themes to serve as scaffolding for the game, such as the superhero version shown above. I knew that any aesthetic could really serve for this application, and that in the future it could be used to cater to various demographics.






This revised design begins with a sign-in process. The user simply loads the application and selects one of two options: 1. New profile 2. Facebook

After the user sign in, RUN loads a map of his current location. In this case, a map of Philadelphia is shown. This map serves as the home screen for all of the user’s running progress and discovered locations. Once the map is loaded, the user is able to click on any of the orange runner icons to select a challenge. After he has selected a challenge, he may choose to add another runner or begin the run.


The other option is to select the circle in the lower left corner that shows “Progress + Runs.” From this he can select a challenge through the running style he prefers. If he would like to participate in a technical run, he would simply tap the circle that says, “Technical.” He may then choose to add a runner or go solo.

After he has completed the run, he will notice a small indicator on the map that shows where he is. The runner icon will now be green instead of orange. If he goes back into his “Progress + Runs,� the user will also notice that he has made progress in that particular running style.





Feedback on Application:

After the mobile application had been refined, I gathered some students to participate in some of the challenges and activities that were in the application.

- The students also provided me with some feedback on the usability of the mobile application.

We met at the Philadelphia Museum of Art to work on some technical running skills on the steps. The students completed the following:

- While observing them using the application, it was apparent that I hadn’t labeled everything enough or provided enough visual feedback as to what was selectable.

1. Hopping on one foot up the entire set of stairs.

Takeaways + Final Thoughts:

2. Stepping sideways up the entire set of stairs.

- This final test proved that if “you build it, they will come.”

3. Jumping forward two steps, back down one, forward two, back down one for the entire set of stairs. 4. Racing from the bottom of the stairs to the top. 5. Balancing and/or hopping between the barriers at the top of the steps.

- The students excelled in the challenges I gave them and a few of the students once again came up with their own suggestions for the activities. - They pushed themselves by going further up the steps than I had originally planned. - They were never reluctant or hesitant to do any of the challenges. Overall, this showed me that they were really driven and that it is possible to get students to exercise, especially when it’s coupled with gamification.







The professors who assisted me at The University of the Arts in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The students who helped with testing and providing feedback.

APPENDIX Chandler, Nathan, and Sara Novak. “10 Tips for Maintaining Your Motivation to Run.” HowStuffWorks. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Sept. 2013. McDougall, Christopher. Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2009. Print. November Project. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 Sept. 2013. VanKim, Nicole A., and Toben F. Nelson. “Vigorous Physical Activity, Mental Health, Perceived Stress, and Socializing Among College Students.” American Journal of Health Promotion 28.1 (2013): 7-15. Print.


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