Exergaming and the Construction of Age(s)

Friday, 20 July 2018
Distributed Paper
Susanne DOBNER, Institute for Sociology, University of Vienna, Austria
The use and development of digital movement games or exergames has become widespread in gerontological research particularly in the context of Active and Assisted Living (AAL). On the one hand, the games are specifically used to train and improve motoric and/or cognitive skills of older adults. On the other hand they partially replace common social board games or can serve as a social medium at family celebrations (De Schutter 2010, Allaire et al. al 2013). This empirical contribution examines how age is constructed in the interaction with and development of the ‘EnterTrain’ exergaming plattform, a gaming plattform developed within an ongoing AAL research project.

During a test and evaluation phase of the gaming platform, participants aged 65 and older have the games installed in their homes over a period of 12 months. Empirical material used for the analysis consist of video footage capturing older adults playing the games as well as qualitative in-depth interviews at several points in time during the trial phase. Additionally, participant observations during the initial installations of the gaming platform contribute to a better understanding of the interaction and construction of age(s) between participants, technicians and the gaming platform itself.

The theoretical basis of this contribution is a materialistic-feminist development of Schroeter's concept of the "Doing Age" (2012), which captures the interplay of symbolizations and physical performances analytically. To consider the concrete manifestations of physical processes and changes is particularly important in gerontological research because they are a central expression of aging (cf. Abramson 2015). Materialistic-feminist research expands this approach by "delimiting" the body as an ontological unit and working it out as reconfigurations of human-thing-technology-networks with other physical embodiments (see Barad, 2003).