Glooveth: Healthy Living, Fun and Serious
Enric MACÍASa, Oscar GARCÍAa, Pau MORENOb, Maria Montserrat PRESNOb and
Tallulah FORREST b
GTM – Grup de Recerca de Tecnologies Mèdia (Media Technologies Research
La Salle – Universitat Ramon Llull
Abstract. Serious Games and Gamification deliver powerful and truthful
experiences by providing the user with goals, challenges, problem solving and
rules, besides a clear internal value and an interactive experience. In fact, Serious
Games can be considered memorable experiences that deliver intense moments
with the support of different platforms and social networks while ensuring high
degrees of motivation, efficiency and performance. Here, we describe Glooveth,
an educational game for children ages 6 to 12 years, which was the winner of the
Silver Award in the Global eHealth Challenge 2010. Glooveth is a platform
computer game that teaches healthy living. We developed a game to be used by
three different peripherals: a mouse and two special gloves. These peripherals
provide the user with a more intense gameplaying and learning experience. The
paper explains the project, from concept to application to usability testing.
Keywords. Serious Games, Edutainment, Infrared LED, Virtual Reality, Health
Care, Natural Interaction.
The appearance of low-cost virtual reality devices such as Nintendo’s Wii  has
resulted in a change of design philosophy and innovation in computer gaming. Natural
interaction between players and the computer is a new gameplay formula that relies on
the user’s own bodily movements and gestures.
This clear innovation appeals to everyone in the sense that playing computer
games is not such a big deal. Now everyone is able to play.
The Glooveth educational gaming project was designed to take advantage of
virtual reality capabilities and to be a component of the Healthy Living part of the
Global eHealth Challenge 2010  program, organized by Cure4Kids for Kids! .
The Healthy Living part teaches about prevention of cancer and contains several topics:
tobacco control and protection, safe sun exposure, appropriate physical exercise, and
proper nutrition (the main topic of the Glooveth).
Games, especially serious games, are perfect for the achievement of educational
purposes. Fun and enjoyment are crucial to the process of learning. Kids playing an
educational game enjoy a memorable experience in a relaxed atmosphere where they
feel motivated and eager to learn. Computer games, in particular, are fun, challenging,
and rewarding. For this reason learners will be more motivated and engaged in
educational activities if these activities take the form of a gameplaying experience.
1. Technological Background
Some technological aspects must be clarified before we explain the game:
1.1. Infrared LED, Wii Remote and the CyberTouch Dataglove
The Wii Remote is the primary controller for Nintendo’s Wii  console. A main
feature of the Wii Remote is its motion-sensing capability.
Wii Remote comes with an infrared (IR) camera with an object tracking processor.
The IR camera needs a bar sensor (containing 10 IR LEDs) on the top or the bottom of
a screen to provide user’s motion information .
One of the particularities of Glooveth is that the roles have been interchanged
between devices. The Wii Remote plays the role of a camera (reading the user’s
movements) and the IR LEDs are incorporated into an interaction glove to be read by
the controller. Therefore it is possible to track what the user is doing with his or her
The CyberTouch   is an immersive glove consisting of 22 sensors that track
hand motions in real time. Sensors are located over or near the joints of the hand and
wrist. Note that this dataglove also comes with six vibrotactile feedback devices. There
is one feedback device per finger plus one on the palm.
1.2 The Panda3D and Crayon3D libraries
Panda3D  is a game engine originally conceived and developed by both the Walt
Disney Company  and the Entertainment Technology Center (ETC) . It includes
graphics, audio, collision detection, and other abilities relevant to the creation of 3D
Panda3D is an open source solution that is helpful in the development of a 3D
game from the outset in an incredibly easy and fast way. Although Panda3D was
developed for the creation of 3D games, Glooveth is a 2D game environment.
Crayon3D  is an external extension for the Panda3D library that was
developed as semester project at the ETC at Carnegie Mellon University . This
extension of code was built on the basis of the technology crafted by Johnny Chung
Crayon 3D enables users to create objects by drawing in the air with their fingers
while using a glove made of LED’s, just like Harold the main character of "Harold and
the Purple Crayon"   book.
Figure 1. (left) Number-directions relationship, (right) Shape created with Crayon3D.
2. The Glooveth Learning Experience
To design an educational and engaging game to be used by kids, the project needs a
subset of goals and rules to test users’ skills. At the same time it challenges skills, it
should also contribute to users’ learning .
2.1 System design
The specifications of the game experience were designed along the lines of Golden Axe
, a classic horizontal scroll game in which the most important thing is to defeat
enemies while trying to surpass the current stage (each with two or three enemies), in
order to complete the full level. Glooveth uses the same game strategy with four or five
stages inside a level and a total of 6 levels.
The main character in Glooveth is a boy from 6 to 12 years old. He is able to walk
through the stage, fight the enemies, and pick up diverse items to gain energy and
There are five different abilities related to the “attack” action as specified. These
abilities come from the existing six nutritional groups: grains, vegetables, fruits, fats
and oils, milk, and meat (within meat we also added beans, fish, and nuts). We
excluded fats and oils in order to avoid misconceptions, so we were looking for a clear
and direct transmission with youngster users. We tried to communicate through images
instead of text and the visualization of an oil bottle or something fat could conflict with
the main purpose of the game.
There are regular objects such as rice (grains group), lettuce (vegetables group),
strawberry (fruit group), milk (milk group), and fish (meat, beans, fish, and nuts group).
In addition to that, there are special items such as cereal (grains group), tomato
(vegetables group), banana (fruit group), cheese (milk group), and eggs (meat, beans,
fish, and nuts group). These items are spread over the levels and are crucial to fulfill the
energy bar of energy and ability bar from power to kill enemies. We can say that the
objects produce a significant quantity of energy and power. Each item gives a particular
amount of energy, but some items generate more energy than others .
We were also interested in introducing the idea of the coupling between the
execution of exercise and the dissipation of energy. This is why the life bar decreases
over time. Standing doesn't take as much energy as walking. Accordingly, to be active,
the player has to eat as much healthy food as possible.
Within the game mechanics created there’s the possibility that the Glooveth
experience finishes if the character runs out of lives, which are visible on the life bar.
The player starts with three lives, but that number can be decreased if an enemy hits the
character or runs into it. Enemies are defined as unhealthy food: doughnuts, soft drinks,
fried potatoes, and fully loaded hamburgers.
2.2 Technological content
The game can be controlled with only a typical mouse; however, the experience is
enhanced by the use of a virtual reality peripheral such as one of the two natural
interaction gloves developed exclusively for this project. Each glove produces a
different interaction with the game.
Figure 2. (left) A Glooveth screenshot, (center) LEDs glove, (right) The CyberTouch dataglove.
The materials required for the LEDs glove include a regular winter glove, 3
infrared LEDs, 1 white light LED, 3 resistances (51 ohms), a switch, a battery case
(3V), 2 batteries (1.5V), and some cable (Fig. 2). The glove was originally developed
for the Crayon 3D semester project belonging to the ETC .
Our decision to use the LEDs glove was based on wanting youngsters to be able to
control the entire application. The main character’s movements were to be executed
with the user’s finger pointing at the screen. With the use of Crayon3D library routines,
the software allows users to draw a specific shape in the air, and that shape is translated
into one of the game’s “abilities”.
During the actual playing experience, the child also uses a Wii Remote in his/her
left hand. The A button of Wii Remote is used for menu navigation and for drawing
shape’s process to execute abilities.
The immersive CyberTouch   (Fig.2) dataglove is a fusion of two devices:
the LEDs glove and a commercial CyberTouch unit. Thanks to this combination, we
were able to follow a multimodal paradigm by which we could couple the information
generated by the device with the infrared light directed to the LEDs, as captured by the
Although the CyberTouch dataglove includes IR LEDs, its specification and
relationship to the interaction within the serious game differs from that of the LEDs
glove. The data provided by the CyberTouch glove helped change the idea of control of
movement for the Glooveth main character. The character moves across the stage
(grass) in relation to the measurement of the forward and backward movements of the
index and middle fingers of the player. Therefore kids assume that they are controlling
the character’s feet by a natural interaction scheme. In this gameplaying the user sits on
a chair and plays over a table in front of the screen, so boy’s grass becomes user’s table.
With this game strategy, the user has to walk with his or her fingers inside/outside the
table for a depth movement and left/right for a horizontal movement.
The action related to the attack (i.e., the fight against unhealthy items) was
designed to function in the same way as with the LEDs glove. Therefore we use the
infrared lighting scheme to draw, not in the air but over the table in this case.
CyberTouch dataglove vibrotactile feedback devices are used when the energy bar
reaches a critical level, warning the user that he or she is running out of energy.
User Experience Testing and Task Evaluation was performed, and this protocol
allowed us to study interface efficiency and effectiveness between the user and the
hardware/software, especially during the initial moments of play. We also compared
the interaction results among users depending on the type of peripheral selected. Six
users were asked to finish five specific tasks by repeating these three times with
different interaction devices (a mouse, the LEDs glove, and the CyberTouch
Regarding which peripheral yields the best game performance and interaction, the
mouse is both the easiest to use and is most familiar. Players control the game with a
mouse without any problems because they are used to it. The LEDs glove delivers a
more powerful sensory experience, one that is innovative and different, but its use is
more tiring than with the mouse. It requires more activity. Finally, the CyberTouch
dataglove appears to be a difficult peripheral to use, especially for controlling the
character’s walking. The users perceived an inability to control 100% of the character’s
movement, as they would expect to be able to do.
Glooveth provides an Edutainment experience whereby kids learn about healthy
and unhealthy habits while playing and enjoying themselves. The items-enemies
metaphor and the natural interaction paradigms help them to understand what is good
nutrition and what is not. It has to be said that users didn’t really take into account that
energy disappears and therefore they just played and drew while clearing enemies
(unhealthy food). For this reason we can say that exercise is a crucial factor in healthy
living that needs to be developed within the game experience in order to expand
Glooveth’s edutainment value .
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