Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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Messagerunner: Gamifying Behavioural Change Through Mobile Media

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Version 2 2023-09-22, 01:42
Version 1 2021-11-22, 23:11
posted on 2023-09-22, 01:42 authored by Cheng, Xudong

This research proposes a design solution that integrates gamification and behavioural change theories into a mobile fitness application to promote and maintain physical activity for young adults. This research proposes that the usability of mobile apps on behavioural modification can be improved by integrating psychological interventional methods into the product design. The design output, Messagerunner, will provoke critical reflection about the future design of mobile fitness applications. During the design process, I identified and collected related theories to analyse existing precedents, and then extracted design methods and criteria. Various methodologies including literature analysis, contextual inquiry, and iterative prototyping support the design solution.   Messagerunner seeks to balance the tedious exercise routine with the enjoyment from gamification. It uses widely accepted theories and methods on behavioural intervention to promote physical activity. This research was started by analysing the benefits and cost of behavioural intervention counselling and mobile persuasive technologies. Mobile applications have the benefits of being low cost and easy to access, compared to counselling. However, the existing applications have limits compared to professional intervention. Design solutions that combine intervention methods with persuasive technologies could lead to a better management for sedentary lifestyles.   Messagerunner adopts activity promotion methods drawn from a range of theories. These includes the transtheoretical model (TTM), the theory of planned behaviour (TPB) , and flow theory. The design of the app is inspired by three precedents: Pokémon Go, Habitica, and Run An Empire. To test the method, the design process includes contextual inquiry, prototyping, and user testing. The design outcomes apply to users worldwide and reflect on the design of current commercial fitness apps. The outputs produce a concept and UI design for the final iteration of Messagerunner. This research will provide insightful perspectives for future designs for fitness applications.


Copyright Date


Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Rights License

CC BY 4.0

Degree Discipline


Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Degree Level


Degree Name

Master of Design Innovation

Victoria University of Wellington Unit

University Library

ANZSRC Type Of Activity code


Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Research Masters Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

School of Design


White, Tom