About this paper

Appears in:
Pages: 2211-2219
Publication year: 2013
ISBN: 978-84-616-2661-8
ISSN: 2340-1079

Conference name: 7th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 4-5 March, 2013
Location: Valencia, Spain


M. Hwang, P. Chantes, G. Tedaldi, A.L. Lomboy

Columbia University, Teachers College (UNITED STATES)
The obesity epidemic is one of America’s largest public health challenges, one that creates disparities among race, ethnicity, region and income (Fund for Public Health in NY). Currently, there are over 12 million obese American children and adolescents. Intrigued by the increase in childhood obesity, many awareness movements have been ignited throughout the country. In light of efforts to combat the obesity epidemic, Monster Appetite is a game that potentially remediates some aspects of the concern by promoting awareness of the food content. Through play, children learn about caloric amount in various food items that a child may select and intake daily. Unlike most games that promote nutritional awareness by focusing on what is best based on nutritional values, Monster Appetite employs reverse psychology, where players can eventually learn about food calories and information but by selecting what they feel is the highest caloric meal and feed it to their monster avatar so that it can grow bigger. By playing the game multiple times, players will eventually have a greater knowledge of which food items contain the least/most calories as it becomes advantageous for their game play. The most critical aspect when designing Monster Appetite was the player’s game experience and how the game play can promote awareness of food choices. The food items have been selected based on what school aged children are most likely to select to eat, where multiple grocery choices can have large variation on calories and have the high risk of causing obesity (Zinczenko & Goulding, 2008). The mechanic of selecting a meal is a fast action activity where each player rapidly selects a meal card based on a quick glance at a picture of an item. In addition to meal cards, game tokens can impact the player negatively or positively: for example, doing yoga causes a player’s monster to lose calories, but a late night snack card gives a monster additional calories for the total daily intake, which will help the player’s monster grow more rapidly.
The mobile technology approach for learning is appropriate in the intensely techno-centric world where 21st century skills are emphasized, but are not supported enough in academic and educational settings. The creators hope that the game will help players make healthier dietary decisions. Features of the game include (1) built in barcode and QR code scanner: Single player mode allows players to scan food items they see in stores by photographing their UPC with their mobile device. These items scanned can also become part of a players 'virtual deck' giving them an advantage over players who have never seen those foods before because the player has a chance to memorize caloric content. Items not in the database can be submitted and verified on a back-end server, allowing for a richer game play and constantly appearing new 'cards.' (2) Geo-location & social-networking capability: Players can check into a supermarket or restaurant that partnered with Monster Appetite to download additional/seasonal card decks. Players can easily exchange/swap/share card decks with their friends who are also playing the game, which can increase social interaction. (3) Space and learning constraints: Tablets and mobile phones would allow the game to be played on the go. Technical devices simplify the game play allowing the players’ focus to be more on the learning content, while allowing richer animations and sounds, which can engage the viewer.
author = {Hwang, M. and Chantes, P. and Tedaldi, G. and Lomboy, A.L.},
series = {7th International Technology, Education and Development Conference},
booktitle = {INTED2013 Proceedings},
isbn = {978-84-616-2661-8},
issn = {2340-1079},
publisher = {IATED},
location = {Valencia, Spain},
month = {4-5 March, 2013},
year = {2013},
pages = {2211-2219}}
AU - M. Hwang AU - P. Chantes AU - G. Tedaldi AU - A.L. Lomboy
SN - 978-84-616-2661-8/2340-1079
PY - 2013
Y1 - 4-5 March, 2013
CI - Valencia, Spain
JO - 7th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
JA - INTED2013 Proceedings
SP - 2211
EP - 2219
ER -
M. Hwang, P. Chantes, G. Tedaldi, A.L. Lomboy (2013) PROMOTING HEALTHY EATING HABITS THROUGH MONSTER APPETITE, INTED2013 Proceedings, pp. 2211-2219.