Life tree: understanding the design of breathing exercise games

Rakesh Patibanda, Florian 'Floyd' Mueller, Matevz Leskovsek, Jonathan Duckworth

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference PaperResearchpeer-review

46 Citations (Scopus)


Regular breathing exercises can be a beneficial part of leading a healthy life. Digital games may have the potential to help people practice breathing exercises in an engaging way, however designing breathing exercise games is not well understood. To contribute to such an understanding, we created Life Tree as the culmination of three prototypal breathing games. Life Tree is a virtual reality (VR) game in which a player controls the growth of a tree by practicing pursed-lip breathing. We selected VR head-mounted display technology because it allows players to focus and limit external distractions, which is beneficial for breathing exercises. 32 participants played Life Tree and analysis of the collected data identified four key themes: 1) Designing Breathing Feedback; 2) Increasing Self-Awareness of Breathing and Body; 3) Facilitating Focused Immersion; and, 4) Engagement with Breathing Hardware. We used these themes to articulate a set of breathing exercise game design strategies that future game designers may consider to develop engaging breathing exercise games. Copyright is held by the owner/author(s). Publication rights licensed to ACM.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the Annual Symposium on Computer-Human Interaction in Play
EditorsPaul Cairns, Tilde Bekker
Place of PublicationNew York NY USA
PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery (ACM)
Number of pages13
ISBN (Electronic)9781450348980
Publication statusPublished - 2017
Externally publishedYes
EventACM SIGCHI Annual Symposium on Computer-Human Interaction in Play 2017 - Amsterdam, Netherlands
Duration: 15 Oct 201718 Oct 2017
Conference number: 4th


ConferenceACM SIGCHI Annual Symposium on Computer-Human Interaction in Play 2017
Abbreviated titleCHI PLAY 2017
Internet address


  • Breathing exercises
  • Game design
  • Mindfulness
  • Virtual reality
  • Wellbeing

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