From Interactive to "Inner Active"

A few days ago, I wrote an article in which I discussed my hopes for more physically active gaming to be brought to the masses. Today, we're going to look at a game that focuses on the inner self. In a press release that was released today, The Wild Divine Project, which states to be a conglomeration of a music label and game development company, will soon release their first game, entitled, The Journey to Wild Divine. What's intriguing about this Myst-looking game is that it uses biofeedback to measure heart rate and other functions of the body.

The game was created with the collaboration of a biomedical engineer, an animator/developer, a biofeedback specialist, a former Buddhist monk, and the rest of the development team. According to the press release:

While traditional gaming relies on the user's reaction to, and interaction with, the gaming environment, The Wild Divine starts on the inside.  First, players hook themselves up to a biofeedback module which measures heart rate and other functions. Following a training session where guides familiarize users with the interface and the types of mind/body exercises they will need to master to navigate, players explore a lush, fantastic world of challenges, adventures and other experiences.

 

The Wild Divine is both a healing journey and exhilarating adventure.  PhD biomedical engineer Kurt Smith and animator/developer Corwin Bell and their development team, located in Eldorado Canyon, have created a deeply detailed, lush world that will reward gamers with hours of pleasure.  Playing the game also reduces stress, centers the mind and calms the body.  Benefits may extend well beyond the playing experience as the game shows promise as a therapeutic tool and a focusing exercise for businesspeople.

What does this mean for you and me? Well, games are always meant to be a relaxing and enjoyable pastime, but it looks like the folks at the Wild Divine Project are striving for that "next level" that we hear so much about. Will it work in this case, however?

A couple of years ago, at E3, I was able to test a similar program that used biofeedback in order to measure heart-rate and brain waves. This device was used with a Virtual Reality, or VR, helmet in order to help patients with severe phobias, such as heights, to conquer their fears. Since I myself have a fear of heights, I decided to try it out. I walked away from the experiment impressed at the ability for the biofeedback to not only gauge my reactions, but to adjust the simulation according to my behavior.

If it's indeed successful at breaking that "fourth wall" between us and our games, I could see enormous potential for not only therapeutic applications, but indeed for our games as well. Imagine, for example, playing a flight simulator wherein it monitored your biofeedback

and adjusted the simulation accordingly, such as causing blackouts in the game. Imagine a first person shooter than monitored your heartbeat and reflected your behavior on the in-game character you were playing, such as a high heartbeat, panting, sweating, etc.

Personally, I'm all for innovation in our games and this does sound quite innovative. If successfully achieved, I could see the use of biofeedback in all types of games, from Myst-style adventures such as the one discussed here, to role playing games, and much more.

The actual game and its biofeedback unit will be available beginning November first, and we hope to be able to bring you a review of the entire package around that time as well. For more information on the game, please feel free to visit the company's web site.

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