Nevermind; A Horror Game Built for Stress Management

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Horror games are a dime a dozen these days. With the increasing popularity of the Oculus Rift and the success of titles such as Amnesia and Outlast, more and more developers are looking for new ways to scare players. With so many new entries in the horror genre, it's disappointing to see so many of the same clich├ęs and tropes played out again and again with so little variation. Today, I was directed to a Kickstarter project called Nevermind. It's the first game I've seen that uses your own fear against you.

Nevermind uses a biofeedback sensor to feed it information such as heart rate and respiration. By measuring the change in these metrics, the game learns to sense when players are afraid and responds by making the game more difficult. This mechanic forces the player to learn to calm down in order to progress. Erin Reynolds, Nevermind's Creative Director hopes that Nevermind will help players learn stress and anxiety management techniques that they can use in their day to day lives.

The story of Nevermind comes off as a serious take on Psycohnauts. The player is a "Neuroprober" who uses a prototype technology to enter the minds of psychological trauma victims in an effort to better treat their conditions. By exploring the victim's subconscious and collecting photographs, players piece together the traumatic events.

Nevermind takes a different perspective on the horror genre. Instead of trying to build a base with bigger scares and more visceral graphics, it seeks to use the fear that horror fans seek to create a truly positive and constructive result.

Everyone has dealt with at least some stress and anxiety in their lives. I've sought many different techniques to manage it in my own life, and I've seen what a crippling force it can be for people that struggle with anxiety on a daily basis. I think Nevermind stands to not only provide an interesting experience for players, but to really help people with its mechanics.

Nevermind is up on Kickstarter now. The pledge levels have a variety of bonuses, including beta access, t-shirts and your face in game's "hall of fears." As a serious fan of horror games and positive games, Nevermind is a project I can really get behind.