Waterfall climber is an exertion game that combines elements of a platform game with traditional rock-climbing.

Players have to climb an indoor climbing wall while simultaneously ducking out of the way of falling virtual boulders. If a player is “hit” by a virtual boulder, his/her health decreases, and the water level, which starts off at the ground level, raises more quickly. The player’s challenge is therefore to watch out for the boulders while trying to stay above the water, all while climbing the wall! Communication with the belayer is facilitated because the belayer can warn of falling boulders.


This game explores the merging of exertion with digital game elements and how it changes the challenge for the player, but also the social interaction with support partners. The waterfall climber raises questions such as how an indoor training activity, which is often a preparation for outdoor sports, changes when additional game elements are introduced.

Does the digital augmentation enhance the indoor activity? Would it distract from the activity once taken outdoors, to “the real thing”? Do rock-climbers appreciate digital game elements introduced to their often perceived tranquil and lone sports activity?

Waterfall Climber is realized with a Wiimote that tracks custom-made infrared lighting wearables attached to the climber.

Waterfall Climber by Belinda Plunkett, Amy Jeges, Tim Jeffs, Deearne Mortell and Nicholas Merrett. Waterfall Climber project website.