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All editorial decisions for this article, including selection of reviewers and the final decision, were made by guest editor Dr. Michael Heron.
Using electromyography (EMG) for physical therapy is not a new field, but applying it to the game based training for kids who need prosthetic arms to train both use and muscle strength is. The ability to bring fun training games to this demographic of disability gamers is potentially life changing. In an effort to support the training of these children a number of training games were developed. These initial games replace traditional button presses with flex controls using a custom game controller developed specifically for this task. Due to cost, and other factors, kids are often left without prosthetics until they are adults and the rejection rates for adults can be quite high, so the need for these games to not only train but to also be fun and engaging is paramount. This research explores the impact of using a custom EMG controller in place of a keyboard on the usability and user experience of an entertaining training game. Initial user sessions with child users of prosthetics indicate usability scores in a range of 75–85 for most games and moderately high user experience scores (GUESS scores of 40–55). Further comparisons conducted with undergraduate students suggest significantly higher GUESS scores for games where the flex controller is used to control the arms of the player avatar. While mixed, the results of this study indicate a mostly positive impact from the novel nature of using a custom flex controller, while there are indications that sound game design and supportive narrative still matters when developing custom controllers for training or entertainment purposes. Future games and game design for these controllers will utilize the successful design strategies applied by the games tested in this study.
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- The Impact of a Custom Electromyograph (EMG) Controller on Player Enjoyment of Games Designed to Teach the Use of Prosthetic Arms
Peter A. Smith
- Springer New York
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