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Biofeedback Form: Nevermind Wants To Scare You Better

As someone who suffers from anxiety disorder, the idea of a horror game designed to get more challenging the more scared you get, “honing your ability to manage anxiety”, sounds like the last thing I’d ever want to play. Which makes my desire to play it a little confusing. Nevermind, a game title that will only further my habit of accidentally writing those two words as one, is Kickstartering itself for the not inconsiderable sum of $250,000, to develop a “biofeedback horror adventure”. Cripes.

So, as you play a USB-based device monitors your heart rate, and recognises when you’re being a giant scaredy-cat. The more freaked out you get, the harder the game becomes. So you JUST HAVE TO GET A HOLD OF YOURSELF if you want to be able to succeed. Or have a panic attack, collapsed on the floor, staring into the black tunnel and wondering if this means you won or lost.

This isn’t a new game, it should be said. This has been floating around, with its biofeedback promises, since 2012. It was a student project, and won a bunch of attention for its genuinely interesting concepts. However, back then it failed at a stupendously less ambitious Indiegogo campaign, then only trying to raise $3,000, and failed to get half way. Now it’s after 83 times that – gosh, their heart rates must be racing.

One claim made by creator Erin Reynolds in the pitch video I’d like to challenge is, “The game knows more about you than you know about yourself.” It may well know more about my biorhythms than I’m consciously aware of, but I’m pretty sure it doesn’t know about my middle school swimming certificates, nor where I put my National Insurance card. Let’s maintain some control here. The project itself has some aspirations toward doing good.

“Nevermind’s goal is to create an unforgettable gameplay experience that also teaches players how to be more aware of their internal responses to stressful situations. If you can learn to control your anxiety within the disturbing realm of Nevermind, just imagine what you can do when it comes to those inevitable stressful moments in the real world…”

So it’s a sort of combination of aversion therapy and cognitive behavioural therapy? “Learn to cope with this spider or I’ll throw more spiders at you,” sort of thing. However, testing my own stress levels, it goes on to describe itself as “an adventure game (in the spirit of classic games like Myst)”. Nooooooooooo! In it you play a Neuroprober, which means being a doctor who enters the minds of psychologically disturbed trauma victims. Blimey. They’re aiming to make a game that lasts around five hours, and are exploring possibilities of making the PC/Mac project work with Oculus Rift.

A $20 pledge aims for a copy of the game, but it’s not until $190 before you’ll get yourself a heart-rate sensor with it. Although you can pick them up on Amazon and the like for around £60. They say the game can be played without it, but that does seem like getting a copy of Duck Hunt without a light gun.

Quarter of a million dollars is a very lofty goal for a very niche-seeming project. However, these odd ones are often those that catch fire on Kickstarter, and end up making a fortune. It’ll be interesting to see how it goes.

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John Walker

Senior Editor

One of the original co-founders of Rock, Paper, Shotgun, I'm now a senior editor and hero of humanity. Old and special.

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