The greatest enemy is the one inside your head

New+game%2C+%22Nevermind%22+plays+off+the+gamer%27s+emotions+to+create+fear.+

Photo courtesy of Flying Mollusk

New game, “Nevermind” plays off the gamer’s emotions to create fear.

From fingers for button controls to the whole body for motion control, video game controllers have evolved immensely over the past years. “Nevermind,” a horror adventure game on PC, challenges conventions using heart rate monitors as one of its controls to track a player’s emotional state, creating an innovative interactive experience.

Players adopts the role of a “neuroprober,” a unique physician who, through the use of cutting-edge technology, is able to venture into the minds of psychological trauma victims for whom traditional treatment methods have proven ineffective. As players navigate through the patient’s dark subconscious mind, the world changes based on your emotional state (this is where the heart rate monitor comes in). The game morphs and makes itself harder the more nervous you are. For example, if the player feels unsettled by sculptures in the game, the sculptures may start moving, blocking the path on which the player needs to go. In other words, the player has to slow down his or her heart rate before it is possible to proceed.

The purpose behind the design is to train players to be able to calm themselves down in stressful situations. Flying Mollusk, the team behind this game, states, “we craft games that adults want to play while also surreptitiously helping them become the person they want to be.”

This idea of self-improvement through video games is what “Nevermind” is based on. Through the guise of a horror game, “Nevermind” puts players into tense situations and trains them to destress through repetition in a virtual environment. The game also incentivises players to improve with a positive feedback loop that simulates stress in real life: stress can lead to more stress; in the case of the game, stress can lead to scarier and harder obstacles, which can lead to even more stress. By enforcing this seemingly perpetual cycle, players have to learn how to calm down in stressful situations.

The idea behind “Nevermind” is one that has not been popular. People often turn down “educational games” like typing games and brain training games because of their dull gameplay. However, “Nevermind” is game that uses the idea of self-improvement to synergize with the gameplay, resulting in a truly unique horror experience where “the greatest enemy is the one inside your head.”