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Horror game uses biofeedback to make the experience scarier

Nevermind measures your heart rate to tell when you're getting scared -- then ramps up the horror for a truly boot-shaking experience.

Nevermind measures your heart rate to tell when you're getting scared — then ramps up the horror for a truly boot-shaking experience.

(Credit: Erin Reynolds)

Video games and biofeedback have been used before as a sort of anger-management therapy, but what if you could use biofeedback as a game mechanic?

We've played some pretty scary games. There are those moments when you just have to alt-tab, take a few moments to compose yourself and make a cup of tea. The idea, therefore, of a game that can sense when you're reaching that point and make things even worse — like a real-life sanity meter — strikes as deliciously cruel and cunning.

Nevermind by Erin Reynolds, currently seeking funding on Kickstarter, began life in 2012 as a Master of Fine Arts thesis project at the University of Southern California. After completing one level of the game — and achieving critical applause from the indie gaming press — Reynolds and her team decided to fully flesh out the game into four levels.

At its core, it's an adventure game in the style of Myst. As you explore the twisted, labyrinthine levels and solve puzzles, the game will throw you into increasingly creepy and stressful situations — all the time monitoring your heart rate. If your heart rate increases, so does the game's difficulty — but if you can manage to calm yourself down, the difficulty eases.

(Credit: Erin Reynolds)

"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," the Kickstarter page reads. "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..."

You play as a Neuroprober, an invented medical professional whose job is to enter the minds of psychologically disturbed trauma patients who are unresponsive to regular treatment, recovering lost memories and healing the damage. However, as you uncover the past, the minds of the patients fight back — in deeply terrifying ways.

You'll have to supply your own heart-rate monitor, and the team is looking to support as many devices as possible, but you can play the entire game without one. Initially, the game will be available on PC and Mac, and the team is looking to release it for Xbox One, as well as support the Virtuix Omni and the Oculus Rift, which sounds like it will ramp up the terror to maximum proportions.

Currently, you can reserve a copy of the game with an early bird pledge of US$20 on Kickstarter (normal price US$25). Head over to the Nevermind Kickstarter page to learn more and back the project.