WordWalk, PokerWalk, & BingoWalk

WordWalk, PokerWalk, and BingoWalk are iPad-based games designed to encourage walking, sociality, exploration and use of city spaces, and cognitive health.  The games have been tested in various settings, including an arts festival, a neighborhood community center, and a senior citizen center.

WordWalk was piloted at the North Berkeley Senior Center among adults aged 55 and older.  The game, played in three-person teams, represents a collaboration between researchers in the School of Public Health and the Social Apps Lab at UC Berkeley.

A field study is currently underway to assess the feasibility of recruiting and retaining older adults to play WordWalk twice a week over an extended period of time. The field study is being conducted in collaboration with staff at the North Berkeley Senior Center. The timeline for the field study is May – August 2016. It is being funded through the Berkeley Endowed Chair in Geriatrics.  Dr. William Satariano, Co-Principal Investigator of the field study, currently holds this Berkeley chair.

WordWalk is played in two parts. In Part 1, three-person teams walk a ½ mile route, beginning and ending at specified point, in this case, the North Berkeley Senior Center. The route is displayed on an IPad screen. At six points along the route, that players must find, four letters appear in sequence on the screen and then are moved to a separate file. Each letter has a numeric value, similar to Scrabble. In Part 2, the teams return to the senior center to play the 24 letters they collected during the walk. They have 15 minutes to construct and submit as many words as they can from the available letters. Highest scoring teams win prizes.

The results of the study will be used to prepare a separate grant to conduct a more formal pilot study to assess whether playing the game improves levels of physical activity and enhances cognitive function. Researchers at UCSF and UC Davis will join the team to conduct the community trial.

Principal Investigators:  James Holston, Professor, Anthropology, UC Berkeley, and Greg Niemeyer, Associate Professor, New Media Studies, UC Berkeley

Co-Investigator: William Satariano, Professor, School of Public Health, UC Berkeley

Lead Developer: Dmitri Skjorshammer