Cheer for me: effect of non-player character audience feedback on older adult users of virtual reality exergames

Kangyou Yu, Shaoyue Wen, Wenge Xu, Maurizio Caon, Nilufar Baghaei, Hai Ning Liang*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


The presence of an audience and its feedback could affect people’s performance and experience during an event, especially related to sports such as tennis or boxing. Similarly, in videogames, players’ gameplay could be affected if there is an audience and its feedback in response to players’ performance in the environment. The inclusion of an audience with non-player characters (NPC) is common in videogames in general. However, there is a limited exploration of the use of an NPC audience in virtual reality (VR) exergames, especially focusing on elderly players. To fill this gap, this work examines the effect of an NPC audience and its associated feedback (with/without) on elderly users of VR exergames. In a user study, we used 120 NPC in a virtual audience. Results showed that the presence of the NPC audience with responsive feedback led to higher performance (with a higher success rate of performing gesture actions, more successful combinations of actions (or combos for short) performed, and more opponent’s combos prevented) and better gameplay experience (with higher levels of competence, autonomy, relatedness, immersion, and intuitive controls) of elderly players. Our results can help frame the design and engineering of VR exergames that are targeted at elderly users to help them have an enhanced gameplay experience and improve their health.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1887-1903
Number of pages17
JournalVirtual Reality
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2023


  • Audience feedback
  • Elderly users
  • Exergames
  • Non-player characters
  • Virtual reality


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