Note: In 2013, Health Games Research completed its work. This web site is now an archive and will not be updated. Please visit the web site of the Center for Digital Games Research at UC Santa Barbara to find current information about health games and the broader field of digital games, and to use the Health Games Research online searchable database.

BloomingLife: The Skeleton Chase

BloomingLife: The Skeleton Chase is an alternate reality game designed to promote physical activity and a healthy lifestyle among college freshmen. It involves an interactive fictional story—a mystery that takes eight weeks to solve—unfolding across a variety of media (e-mail, Web sites, phone calls from fictional characters, physiological monitoring) and real-world physical and mental challenges that players must surmount to gather clues. A study of this game compares impacts of competitive versus collaborative game versions.

Principal Investigator
Jeanne D. Johnston, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
Department of Exercise Physiology
School of Health, Physical Education, and Recreation
Anne P. Massey, Ph.D.
Department of Information Systems
Lead Researcher
Assistant Professor
Department of Telecommunications
Other Researchers

Mitzi M. Montoya, Ph.D.


Grantee Project Publication Title Datesort icon
Indiana University
BloomingLife: The Skeleton Chase Games Improve Life: IU Students Will Play 'The Skeleton Chase,' an Alternate-Reality Game 07/28/2008


Johnston, J., Sheldon, L., & Massey, A.P. (2010). Influencing physical activity and healthy behaviors in college students: Lessons from an Alternate Reality Game. In Cannon-Bowers, J. and Bowers, C., (Eds). Serious Game Design and Development: Technologies for Training and Learning. Hershey, PA: IGI Global. 


Johnston, J.D. (2009, March). College student physical activity and health. Presented at the University of Vermont, Burlington, VT. 

Johnston, J.D. (2009, October). Physical activity and health during the college years. Presented at the School of Health, Physical Education and Recreation at Indiana University, Bloomington, IN.

Johnston, J.D., Massey, A.P., & Sheldon, L. (2009, June). Influencing physical activity levels of college students: Lessons from an Alternate Reality Game. Presented at Games for Health, Boston, MA. 

Johnston, J.D., Massey, A.P., & Sheldon, L. (2010, November). Impact of a game based intervention on physical activity within the college student population. Presented at the American Public Health Association, Denver, CO. 

Massey, A.P., Johnston, J.D., & Sheldon, L. (2010, September). This is not a (physical activity) game: Designing games for health. Presented at Fun and Games, Leuven, Belgium. 

Sheldon, C.L., Johnston, J.D., & Massey, A.P. (2010, March). The Skeleton Chase-Designing a fun serious ARG. Presented at Game Developers Conference, San Francisco, CA.