For leading a healthy life, regular breathing exercises can be beneficial. Digital games may have the potential to help people practice breathing exercises in an engaging way. However, not much understanding exists to design such breathing exercise games. To contribute to such an understanding, I created three Virtual Reality (VR) prototype games that used breathing as the primary control mechanism. I selected virtual reality head-mounted display technology because it allows players to focus on the virtual environment and limit external distractions, which is beneficial for breathing exercises. I conducted a formal analysis of gameplay on my three prototypes to develop my final game Life Tree. Life Tree is a single player VR game in which a player controls the growth of a virtual tree by practicing pursed-lip breathing technique. Thirty-two participants were interviewed and filled out a questionnaire after playing Life Tree.

Analysis of the data identified four key themes of affecting the experience of participants: 1) Designing Breathing Feedback; 2) Increasing Self-awareness of Breathing and Body; 3) Facilitating Focused Immersion and, 4) Engagement with Breathing Hardware. I used these themes to articulate a set of breathing exercise game design strategies. Game designers may consider these design strategies to develop engaging breathing exercise games.

For more details, please refer to the following literature:

 

Life Tree: Understanding the Design of Breathing Exercise Games.