ArticlePDF Available

Video Games can Improve Performance in Sports–An Empirical Study with Wii TM Sports Bowling


Abstract and Figures

According to studies from the medical domain it can be as-sumed that the training of sensomotor abilities by the use of video game consoles positively affects performance in real life situations. With this in mind we investigated the assumption that – at least for bowling novices – training of bowling games with the Nintendo Wii can have positive effects on their performance on a real bowling alley. So we conducted an empirical study with students from the University of Bamberg. One group of participants took part in a video game training session while the other group received no special training. After that participants of both groups played on the bowling alley. Results showed a significant positive effect of console training on the mean scores in bowling.
Content may be subject to copyright.
Video Games can Improve Performance in
Sports – An Empirical Study with WiiTM Sports
Andreas Siemon, Rene Wegener, Florian Bader, Thomas Hieber, and Ute
Faculty Information Systems and Applied Computer Science
Otto-Friedrich University Bamberg
Feldkirchenstr. 21
96045 Bamberg, Germany
Abstract. According to studies from the medical domain it can be as-
sumed that the training of sensomotor abilities by the use of video game
consoles positively affects performance in real life situations. With this in
mind we investigated the assumption that – at least for bowling novices
– training of bowling games with the Nintendo Wii can have positive
effects on their performance on a real bowling alley. So we conducted
an empirical study with students from the University of Bamberg. One
group of participants took part in a video game training session while
the other group received no special training. After that participants of
both groups played on the bowling alley. Results showed a significant
positive effect of console training on the mean scores in bowling.
1 Introduction
By this time video and computer games have become a part of modern western
culture. As Privewaterhouse Coopers announced the sales of video games indus-
try exceeded the sales of the music industry in Germany in 2007 for the very
first time. For this reason the diverse discussions about the influences of video
games on consumers’ psychological, social and motor abilities are highly relevant
(Kershner, 1995; Griffiths, 2007). This study addresses itself to the last aspect,
the coordinative and motor abilities.
Several other studies exist concerning this topic. Some years ago there already
seemed to be evidence that video gamers were better trained in concentrating on
several tasks at a time (Satyen & Ohtsuka, 2002). The reason therefore can be
0The reported empirical study was realised as practice part of a course Human Com-
puter Interaction in the winter term 2007/2008. The authors are students who par-
ticipated in this course.
found in the demands of games to perceive several different objects on screen and
transform the perception into the right motor commands. Even more concrete
results are delivered by Rosenberg, Landsittel, and Averch (2005) who could
show that the ability to control a video game correlates with the ability to solve
laporoscoptic tasks. In other words, test persons that achieved better results in
video games in the mean also acted more successfully in real life tasks which
demanded a good eye-hand-coordination. In a further study (James C. Rosser
et al., 2007) it was revealed that surgeons that spent their time regularly on video
games made about one third mistakes less in laparoscopic surgeries (procedures
with the help of very small cameras) in average.
So there must be a connection between motor abilities in a game and in
reality. But there remains one question unanswered: Is the consume of video
games the reason of a better eye-hand-coordination or is there another reason
for the correlation? In other words, the question is whether specific training at
a video game console is really appropriate for improving motor abilities. Within
this study the question is substantiated by training on a Wii console of the
manufacturer Nintendo.
The video game console Wii from Nintendo is part of a new generation of
interactive gaming. In contrast to common consoles like the Sony Playstation the
Wii is not created for absolutely realistic graphics and games but is specialized
on what Nintendo likes to call “Gameaction” (Nintendo, 2008). Bundled with
the Wii Nintendo released “Wii Sports” which consists of the games baseball,
bowling, boxing, golf and tennis. It won the Game Developers Award for inno-
vation and game design in 2007. The most important innovation of the Wii is
its new kind of controller, the Wii Remote. It is a wireless controller that reacts
to players’ movements. According to the manufacturer this allows an absolutely
intuitive and natural kind of gaming (Nintendo, 2008). The remote contains an
acceleration sensor that recognizes movements and rotations of the controller
and sends them to the console via bluetooth. With this it is possible to rotate
the bowling ball or to make a serve in tennis or a weak put in golf.
According to H. M¨uller, B. Schumacher, K. Blischke and R. Daugs (1990,
p.37) the training of techniques in top-class sport aims at error minimisation
which means a reduction of target-performance discrepancy. This demands an
analysis of the athlete’s movements who receives a feedback on how to improve
his technique further. One very apt way of analysis is to employ video systems
which enable professional coaches and athlete to view specific phases of the
athlete’s movements. As already explained, the Wii Remote contains a set of
sensors to recognize movements in three dimensions. By doing so real movements
like in tennis or bowling can be adapted. Through enabling the transfer of a
player’s movements (at least partially) into the game it might be possible of
the console taking the part of a coach in some simple manner. Although the
player’s technique isn’t analysed in a professional way he still receives some kind
of feedback through the graphics on screen (e. g., a throw on the bowling alley).
Especially novices should have a very high potential of improvements in their
technique so that training on a Wii could improve their movements and timing
in sports. This might show that virtual training with the right input device could
achieve real life advancements.
So we conducted an empirical study in which the Wii Sports bowling simula-
tion was evaluated. We wanted to test the assumption that a benefit of training
would be measurable with inexperienced test persons. This benefit should be-
come visible by better bowling scores of the Wii trained subjects in comparison
to a control group. The following part of this work will introduce the empir-
ical study. The dependent and independent variable and the procedure of the
study and also the sample are explained. After that the results are presented
and discussed. A prospect on possible further studies completes this work.
2 Empirical Study
2.1 Sample
The study was carried out in Dezember 2007 at the Otto-Friedrich-University
and at the bowling alley MainFranken Bowling in Bamberg. Altogether the group
of participants consisted of 32 university students (25 male, 7 female), predomi-
nantly from the social and economical programs. The students were assigned to
one of two groups: a group of 15 persons who received training with the help
of the game console, and a second group of 17 persons who would start at the
bowling alley without specific training.
2.2 Material
The Nintendo-Wii was chosen to provide the platform for the bowling training
one of the groups was to receive. The possibility to adapt the game to right/left-
handed subjects increased the usage of the software for this study. By employing
an introductory questionnaire demographic data was collected from the test
persons as well as information concerning previous knowledge or self-assessment
concerning sports in general and bowling in particular. Key questions on the
questionnaire were:
bowling expertise (frequency of play, scores),
self-assesment (rating as novice or expert on a 5-step scale),
experience in other ball sports, and
experience with Wii and other game consoles.
After the study was finished, a final questionnaire was handed to the test
persons in order to gather information about:
self-assessment on the performance in the bowling game (as above, same,
below the subject’s usual level),
rating of the fun the subject experienced while playing bowling, and
self-assessment on the effects of the training on the subject’s performance
in the real game (only for members of the training-group) on a 5-step scale
from negative over no effect to positive.
2.3 Design and Variables
The participants were assigned to two groups, the training-group (15 persons)
and the non-training-group (17 persons). In order to have a sufficient number of
test persons available, group membership was not determined randomly. Instead
participants were able to choose whether they would like to receive treatment
before playing at the bowling alley.
The bowling scores from the participants at the bowling alley were the main
dependent variable. For the training group, the scores from the training sessions
with the game console were recorded separately.
2.4 Procedure
The study was carried out in two phases - training and the testing. All the
participants receiving training filled out the questionnaires before the session
was started. For the training itself the test persons were split up in groups
of three or four, playing two games of ten frames after the control had been
explained and some practice shots were taken. At the end of each session, the
scores of the players were written down on their questionnaires. To ensure the
participants’ anonymity, the questionnaires do not contain the subjects’ names.
The lag between training and testing on the bowling alley was 1-2 days.
When the testing started, the subjects were allowed some practice shots without
pins, giving everyone as much time as 15 minutes to have as many shots as they
felt necessary to take. Again the test persons were split up into groups of four
to eight players per lane. The only distinct feature which had to be taken into
account building the groups was whether the participant had received training
beforehand. The persons which had not been in the training sessions filled out
the introductory questionnaire before the actual game began. Finally, after the
testing on the bowling alley had been finished, all the participants filled out the
concluding questionnaire.
3 Results
The scores of the training group differ positively from those of the non-training
group. As expected, the recipients of video game training performed considerably
better then the not-trained test persons. This becomes evident contrasting the
average score of the training-group with ¯x= 105.41 (sd = 25.88) with the non-
training-group where ¯x= 85.47 (sd = 18.35). The significance of this difference
becomes evident by performing a t-test with T=2,48, df = 30, p = 0.017.
After the evaluation of the questionnaires, there is no evidence for potentially
biased group consistency concerning the level of expertise. It seems that both
inexperienced and experienced (in our case expert) participants were affected by
the training received (see Figure 1).
Fig. 1. Bowling-Scores
4 Discussion
The results of this study are quite straight-forward. From previous studies we
already knew that training with video games can affect strategic thinking pro-
cesses. This studies’ aim was to take it one step further focussing on the aspect
of sensomotor coordination. The fact that the Wii allows for the player to use a
style of control which enables them to carry out a motion much like in the real
bowling game put us in the position to employ it as a means of coordinative
training. Since the groups’ average scores differ considerably, the study provides
evidence that the training on the video console had had a substantial influence
on the performance on the bowling alley for this sample.
In order to confirm these results, the next step would be to enlarge the
scenario by introducing an initial game of bowling before the actual training
takes place. This way the increase in performance can be detected more reliably
since a number of games on different days could balance out good or bad days of
the test persons. The training sessions could be more intense and goal-oriented
in order to tailor the treatment to the participants’ needs.
Griffiths, M. (2007). Videogame addiction: Further thoughts and observations.
New York, USA: Springer.
H. M¨uller, B. Schumacher, K. Blischke and R. Daugs. (1990). Optimierung sport-
motorischen Technik-Trainings durch computergest¨utzte Videosysteme. In
J. Perl (Ed.), Sport und Informatik (p. 37 - 47). Schorndorf, Germany:
James C. Rosser, J., Lynch, P. J., Cuddihy, L., Gentile, D. A., Klonsky, J., &
Merrell, R. (2007). The impact of video games on training surgeons in the
21st century. Quart. Appl. Math.,25, 139-146.
Kershner, K. (1995). Virtual reality: danger ahead.
p/articles/mi_m1272/is_n2602_v124/ai_17320988/pg_1. (Last Ac-
cess: 2008-05-26)
Nintendo. (2008). About wii. (Last Access: 2008-05-26)
Rosenberg, B. H., Landsittel, D., & Averch, T. D. (2005). Can video games be
used to predict or improve laparoscopic skills? Journal of Endourology,19,
Satyen, L., & Ohtsuka, K. (2002). Strategies to develop dual attention skills
through video game training. International Journal for Numerical Methods
in Engineering,42, 561-578.
... This allows for the training of motor skills used in sport a suitable context in which to examine agency in VR. Prior studies have investigated the efficacy of VR in training motor skills such as bowling (Siemon et al., 2009), dart throwing (Tirp et al., 2015) and basketball shooting (Wiemeyer and Schneider, 2012). Using VR to train these skills provides an alternative to in-vivo training potentially provides an enhanced, configurable learning environment, allowing skills to be developed in shorter time periods (Satava et al., 2003). ...
Full-text available
Virtual reality (VR) simulations provide increased feelings of presence and agency that could allow increased skill improvement during VR training. Direct relationships between active agency in VR and skill improvement have previously not been investigated. This study examined the relationship between (a) presence and agency, and (b) presence and skills improvement, via active and passive VR simulations and through measuring real-world golf-putting skill. Participants (n = 23) completed baseline putting skill assessment before using an Oculus Rift VR head-mounted display to complete active (putting with a virtual golf club) and passive (watching a game of golf) VR simulations. Measures of presence and agency were administered after each simulation, followed by a final putting skill assessment. The active simulation induced higher feelings of general presence and agency. However, no relationship was identified between presence and either agency or skill improvement. No skill improvement was evident in either the active or passive simulations, potentially due to the short training period applied, as well as a lack of realism in the VR simulations inhibiting a transfer of skills to a real environment. These findings reinforce previous literature that shows active VR to increase feelings of presence and agency. This study generates a number of fruitful research questions about the relationship between presence and skills training. : Psychology; Virtual reality; Presence; Human factors; Sport psychology Keywords: Psychology, Virtual reality, Presence, Human factors, Sport psychology
... Game players can therefore now improve their general fitness as they engage in the game activity. The popular Wii Sports package provides simplified versions of tennis, baseball, bowling, golf, and boxing, and evidence is emerging that the Wii platform is contributing to the acquisition of skills in some real sports (e.g., 10-pin bowling [17]). ...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
ÖZET Bu çalışmanın amacı, hareket kontrollü bir aktif oyunun hedef algısı ve el göz koordinasyonu üzerine etkisini dart örneğiyle araştırmaktır. Araştırmaya daha önce dart oynamamış 30 (15 kız ve 15 erkek) gönüllü dokuzuncu sınıf öğrencisi katılmıştır. Katılımcılar; ilk önce normal darta ve dairesel darta altı atış yaptırıldı sonrasında sekiz hafta, haftada üç gün ve her çalışmada 15 dakika olmak üzere Microsoft Xbox 360 Kinect ile dart oynatıldı. Sekiz hafta sonunda ise tekrar normal darta ve dairesel darta altı atış yaptırılarak ilk test ve son test puanları değerlendirildi. Verilerin normal dağılım gösterip göstermediğine Shapiro-Wilk testi ile bakıldı ve verilerin normal dağılım gösterdiği tespit edildi. Ortalama ve standart sapma değerleri hesaplanıp verilerin analizi için Paired t testi kullanıldı. Çalışmada kız ve erkek öğrencilerin ilk test - son test puanları arasında istatistiksel bir anlamlılık tespit edildi, benzer şekilde bu anlamlılık tüm öğrenciler değerlendirildiğinde de gözlendi (p<0.01). Kız ve erkek katılımcıların normal dart ve dairesel dart atışları kendi aralarında değerlendirildiğinde ilk test puanları arasında anlamlı bir fark tespit edildi (p<0.05), fakat son test puanlarında ve normal dartın ilk test - son test puanlarında herhangi bir farklılık ortaya çıkmadı (p>0.05). Sonuç olarak Kinect ile sekiz haftalık çalışma, katılımcıların hedefe atış puanlarında olumlu yönde bir artış sağladı. Hareket kontrollü aktif oyun konsolunun çocuklarda el-göz koordinasyonu ve hedef algısını geliştirdiği tespit edildi. Özellikle spora yeni başlayan çocuklarda temel tekniklerin öğretiminde hareket kontrollü oyunların tekniğin algılanması ve öğrenilmesinde etkili olduğu düşünülmektedir. Anahtar kelimeler: Microsoft Xbox 360 Kinect, Dart, Hedef Algısı, El-Göz Koordinasyonu
Full-text available
The aim of this study is to investigate the effects of motion detecting computer games on gun shooting skills. A total of 40 men- 20 in the control group and 20 in the experiment group- and a total of 30 women- 15 in the control group and 15 in the experiment group- have joined. The experiment group played computer games three days a week for 30-45 minutes. As a result of the analysis made, a significant difference has been detected between the post-test results of both groups. It has been found out that experiment groups achieved higher results than the control groups in both genders. As a result, it has been established that motion detecting computer games increase the hitting scores. It can be interpreted as a positive transfer of skills exercises in situations that require skills. Based on the results of this study, it can be useful to benefit from computer-supported game programs in long-term exercise and in the teaching of basic skills.
Conference Paper
Game mechanics in sports video games for skills like running and throwing are nothing like those skills in real sports. Adding small-scale exertion to the control scheme -- using small muscle groups such as hands and fingers -- can re-introduce some degree of physicality into sports video games. However, there is little quantitative knowledge about how small-scale exertion affects individual variability, skill development, or fatigue -- and how it compares to traditional game mechanics. We carried out two studies to provide this quantitative information. Our studies showed that controlling movement with small-scale exertion was significantly and substantially different from rate-based control, and that both movement and passing skills showed significant increases with practice. Our work provides valuable information that can help designers decide when and how to use small-scale exertion, and provides an empirical basis for the design of new game interaction techniques.
The focus of studies in Game-based-Learning and Serious Games is often set to exploring the relationship between experience and the ability to learn in digital game environments which are transferred to real world contexts. As Fritz (Handbuch Medien: Computerspiele (p. 229–246). Bonn, Germany: Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung, 1997) states, those transfers are not of monodirectional character. In our own study about a complex motor-driven action in a sports’ context we tried to explore the antipodal perspective and searched for references in real word sports skills when applied to digital gameplay.
Virtual realities offer a safe and repeatable learning environment, which is optimal for skills that are difficult to replicate in real-world settings. Previous research has demonstrated transfer of motor skill between basketball and darts but not of perceptual performance (Rienhoff et al., 2013). Our study considered the transferability of a specific skill between virtual and real learning environments - in our case throwing accuracy (TA) and quiet eye duration (QED) in dart throwing. Participants (n = 38) were separated into three groups (virtual training, real training, & control) and completed 15 throws in pre- and post-tests on a real and on a virtual (Microsoft XBox Kinect) dartboard. The training groups performed three sessions of 50 throws each. QED was measured using SMI eye tracking glasses and TA was defined as radial distance from the bull’s eye. Results showed significant differences in TA for group and condition; the real training group outperformed the control group and TA was better in the virtual group. The interaction of test and group was significant. Both training groups improved between tests while the control group performed worst. Results for QED showed a significant increase between tests. Furthermore, significant differences for condition and a significant interaction of condition and test were measured. QED was longer and enhanced in the virtual group. Our results generally showed the efficiency of both training modalities and the slight difference in training effects between groups suggests transferability between tasks.
Many sports video games contain elements such as running or throwing that are based on real-world physical activities, but the translation of these activities to game controllers means that the original physicality is lost. This results in games where players have limited opportunity to improve their physical skills, where there is little differentiation in people's physical abilities, and where skills do not change over the course of a game. To explore ways of adding these elements back into sports games, we developed two games with small-scale physical controls for running and throwing -- one game was a simple running race, and one was a team-based handball-style game called Jelly Polo. In two studies (three track-and-field tournaments for the running game, and a four-week league for Jelly Polo), we observed the effects of physical controls on gameplay. Our studies showed that the physical controls enabled substantial individual differences in running and passing skill, allowed people to increase their expertise over time, and led to fatigue-based changes in performance during a game. Physical controls increased the games' challenge, complexity, and unpredictability, and dramatically improved player interest, expressiveness, and enjoyment. Our work shows that game designers should consider the idea of "exertion in the small" as a way to improve play experience in games based on physical activities.
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Abstract. This paper presents a serious game system which recognizes user movements by means of the Wiimote device with accelerometer technology. Recognizing a new gesture involves normalization of Wiimote data and searching in a gesture templates database. Dynamic Time Warping (DTW) comparison algorithm is used as a correlation function to compare the new gesture with every template. Based on prior training, the system can successfully recognize different sport shots. Particularly the system is instantiated for tennis training. The user visualizes the trajectory of the ball in a three-dimensional environment and it can interact with virtual objects that follow Newton dynamics.
Full-text available
Research .over the past two decades has confirmed the learning opportunities that video games can offer. The objectives of the current study were to investigate the ability of video games to enhance divided attention skills and compare these skills based on individuals' level of expertise in video game playing. Female participants aged between 17-25 years categorised as experts or novices, were divided into experimental and control groups. All participants completed the pre and post-test of divided attention between which only the experimental group received video game training. Results indicate that participants who received video game practice achieved an increase in their dual-attention skills compared to those who did not receive any training, with novices displaying a greater enhancement in perfonnance. Implications include the provision of video game training to enhance divided attention skills in air pilot training, driving, and heavyequipment operation apart from other tasks necessitating dual-task efficiency.<br /
Full-text available
Video games have become extensively integrated into popular culture. Anecdotal observations of young surgeons suggest that video game play contributes to performance excellence in laparoscopic surgery. Training benefits for surgeons who play video games should be quantifiable. There is a potential link between video game play and laparoscopic surgical skill and suturing. Cross-sectional analysis of the performance of surgical residents and attending physicians participating in the Rosser Top Gun Laparoscopic Skills and Suturing Program (Top Gun). Three different video game exercises were performed, and surveys were completed to assess past experience with video games and current level of play, and each subject's level of surgical training, number of laparoscopic cases performed, and number of years in medical practice. Academic medical center and surgical training program. Thirty-three residents and attending physicians participating in Top Gun from May 10 to August 24, 2002. The primary outcome measures were compared between participants' laparoscopic skills and suturing capability, video game scores, and video game experience. Past video game play in excess of 3 h/wk correlated with 37% fewer errors (P<.02) and 27% faster completion (P<.03). Overall Top Gun score (time and errors) was 33% better (P<.005) for video game players and 42% better (P<.01) if they played more than 3 h/wk. Current video game players made 32% fewer errors (P=.04), performed 24% faster (P<.04), and scored 26% better overall (time and errors) (P<.005) than their nonplaying colleagues. When comparing demonstrated video gaming skills, those in the top tertile made 47% fewer errors, performed 39% faster, and scored 41% better (P<.001 for all) on the overall Top Gun score. Regression analysis also indicated that video game skill and past video game experience are significant predictors of demonstrated laparoscopic skills. Video game skill correlates with laparoscopic surgical skills. Training curricula that include video games may help thin the technical interface between surgeons and screen-mediated applications, such as laparoscopic surgery. Video games may be a practical teaching tool to help train surgeons.
This paper provides further thoughts and observations on Richard Wood’s paper “Problems with the concept of video game “addiction”: Some case study examples (this issue). Wood argues against the concept of ‘videogame addiction’ but very few of the arguments presented by Wood negate its existence. Just because the few empirical studies appear to overestimate the prevalence of ‘videogame addiction’, it does not mean that the condition does not exist. Furthermore, some of the assertions made by Wood are arguable. Furthermore, Wood does not put forward his own preferred criteria for addiction. This is especially problematic when using his own case studies to negate whether ‘videogame addiction’ exists. Until addiction researchers agree on what it is to be addicted, we will never get agreement on whether behavioural excesses like videogame playing can be classed as a ‘genuine’ addiction.
Performance of laparoscopic surgery requires adequate hand-eye coordination. Video games are an effective way to judge one's hand-eye coordination, and practicing these games may improve one's skills. Our goal was to see if there is a correlation between skill in video games and skill in laparoscopy. Also, we hoped to demonstrate that practicing video games can improve one's laparoscopic skills. Eleven medical students (nine male, two female) volunteered to participate. On day 1, each student played three commercially available video games (Top Spin, XSN Sports; Project Gotham Racing 2, Bizarre Creations; and Amped 2, XSN Sports) for 30 minutes on an X-box (Microsoft, Seattle, WA) and was judged both objectively and subjectively. Next, the students performed four laparoscopic tasks (object transfer, tracing a figure-of-eight, suture placement, and knot-tying) in a swine model and were assessed for time to complete the task, number of errors committed, and hand-eye coordination. The students were then randomized to control (group A) or "training" (i.e., video game practicing; group B) arms. Two weeks later, all students repeated the laparoscopic skills laboratory and were reassessed. Spearman correlation coefficients demonstrated a significant relation between many of the parameters, particularly time to complete each task and hand-eye coordination at the different games. There was a weaker association between video game performance and both laparoscopic errors committed and hand-eye coordination. Group B subjects did not improve significantly over those in group A in any measure (P >0.05 for all). Video game aptitude appears to predict the level of laparoscopic skill in the novice surgeon. In this study, practicing video games did not improve one's laparoscopic skill significantly, but a larger study with more practice time could prove games to be helpful.
Virtual reality: danger ahead
  • K Kershner
Kershner, K. (1995). Virtual reality: danger ahead. p/articles/mi_m1272/is_n2602_v124/ai_17320988/pg_1. (Last Access: 2008-05-26)