Could new US video game ‘Nevermind’ help to conquer phobias?

A new adventure horror game is seeking backing on the crowd-funding site KickStarter, and hopes to raise enough money to go into production later this year. But this is no ordinary electronic video game; this game takes the player’s actual bodily responses and uses them within the context of the game. It is this that makes the Nevermind game a truly interactive experience, as the player wears a heart rate strap throughout the game. The strap is constantly monitoring the heart beat, and as the game gets more frightening, the player will experience higher levels of stress, their heart beat will increase and the game will subsequently get harder, with jarring music or creepy characters jumping out.


The way the game could help phobia sufferers is that the player has to put themselves inside the mindset of a trauma victim who is trying to get to the root of their own fears. As the player explores the game, they are able to monitor their own heartbeat, and manage their fear as they continue through the game. By purposefully making the players scared, they are able to master their fears, as they have to be calm to play the game and to find the clues.


Nevermind started off as a 2012 MFA thesis project at the University of Southern California’s Interactive Media Program, headed up by developer Erin Reynolds. Reynolds told gaming news site Polygon that she thought Nevermind could be useful for anyone dealing with anxiety or fear: “I think in its current state it’s a really great tool for everyday people to get a sense of mindfulness, of being able to connect that tension in the pit of your stomach to stress and a physiological reaction.”


Reynolds and her team are asking for $250,000 on KickStarter as they want to polish the game up a little more and allow PC and Mac users to play it. So far they have raised $71,314 with 1,556 backers with the campaign ending on Friday March 7.


And if you don’t fancy monitoring your biofeedback via the heart rate strap, the game works just as well without it, as a stand-alone surreal adventure-horror game.


The game is quite detailed, with you playing the role of a neuroprober, tasked with exploring the subconscious of severe trauma patients, searching for clues to help discover the root cause of their trauma. You do this by exploring strange environments, solving surreal puzzles, which reveal collectable photographs. It is these photos that represent one of the patient’s memories. Each of the photos relate to a memory in the patient’s subconscious, but there are only a few that represent the true cause of the patient’s issues. So you have to collect the photos, work out which are relevant and solve the patient’s trauma, all within the spooky atmosphere of the game.


To find out more go to NevermindTheGame.com, or to add your backing, visit their KickStarter page.

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