“The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” Franklin D. Roosevelt’s famous line would be an appropriate tagline for a video game called Nevermind. Invented by entrepreneur Erin Reynolds, players attach heart monitors and their experience changes depending on the player’s level of anxiety.
The game is an adventure-horror game where the player has to enter the subconscious minds of psychiatric patients at a fictitious “Neurostalgia Institute” to help them uncover their darkest secrets. The secrets of these haunted patients, though, will attempt to “corrupt and destroy” the player.
The bio-feedback component of the game is that if the player’s heart rate increases -- measured by the monitor strapped to chest of the player -- the game becomes harder. If the player stays calm, and therefore the heart rate stays low, the game becomes more manageable.
“The game knows when you are scared, when you get stressed,” says Reynolds, in a video where she explains her visions and creative direction. “The game is going to react dynamically to how you are feeling internally. You need to learn how to calm down to make the game easier, otherwise it is going to be really difficult to through.”
Renyolds says her goal with the game, aside from entertaining, is to teach people stress-management techniques. She created the initial version of the game for her thesis project at the University of Southern California’s Interactive Media Program in 2012.
Nevermind has raised over $50,000 from more than 1,100 backers with its Kickstarter campaign. The goal is to raise $250,000. With the end date of March 7, she has a ways to go. The current prototype can only be played on PCs, but the game will be expanded to Macs, according to the Kickstarter campaign.
This is not Renyolds’s first video-game rodeo. She and her colleagues from USC were recognized by Michelle Obama’s program “Apps for Healthy Kids” for their video game called Trainer, one that motivates kids to move around and exercise. In the game, kids have to take care of creatures with specific food and health needs. When a creature needs to do a particular physical activity to keep healthy, the player has to perform that same activity. Kids have to work out to play the game.
Reynolds’ philosophy about gaming, as evidence in both Trainer and NeverMind, is that video games can be a tool for personal development and improvement beyond the screen.
“The game knows more about you than you know about yourself. That not only makes a better game play experience, but also helps you become a better person so that you can grow from it,” said Reynolds about NeverMind. “You can learn about yourself and become stronger, while also having a really great time.”
Want to see the Reynolds's full description of Nevermind? Check out the video below.
Related: Transforming the Video Game World
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