Managing player tension with Nevermind

The idea of implementing physiological sensing and dynamic player-system feedback loops in game design has been previously touched on here at MP.   And, more recently, we've considered the potential role and implementation of fear within interactive designs.  Nevermind, a psychological horror game developed within USC's Game Program, draws on both ideas.  Adjusting content and difficulty in light of biofeedback from the player (heart rate variability is used as a measure of stress) the game is meant to help people master, with practice, their responses to stressful situations in general.  As the developers put it: "the player’s goal is not to remain in a constant state of calm, rather, it is to force himself to proceed into scenarios he knows will cause stress or fear, experience the natural reactions such scenarios prompt, and then quickly temper his response to return back to a state of calm."

More about the game concept, the science underlying it, and the team working on the project can be found at


Managing player tension with Nevermind by Jim Cummings, unless otherwise expressly stated, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

8 Responses to “Managing player tension with Nevermind”

  1. Tork Sha says:

    This is fascinating. I did a bit of work on this as part of my masters. Originally it was as the byproduct of an assignment designed to find a an actual use for biofeedback in commercial gaming but it became a crossover piece where we investigated using the biofeedback as both a control mechanism AND a psychological loop to increase the challenges presented.

    One of the significant difficulties we faced was actually getting players comfortable with bio-feedback devices. Both their implications/sci-fi history and the nature of the devices themselves are somewhat sinister so we found that simple interaction with device could produce an emotional response that was completely separate from the game itself!

  2. Jeniffer says:

    Thank you for the Total Calm! Sleep is AMAZING! I have not slept this well in forever. Although I still get up once to go to the loo, the sleep is deep and full of great darmes. I love it. I actually wake up and count the numbers of solid hours of sleep on my fingers. 7 Hours solid sleep since I had the children.The Tummy formula is fantastic too. I definitely feel a difference and have been talking to some other of my clients about it. I have noticed the elimination is much better. Oh and I don’t even know what to say about the Korean Red Ginseng. I had tons of energy before, I just feel so alive and vibrant and I am sure this is due to all of the many wonderful things happening in my life at the moment.

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  1. Psychoengagement | - [...] This is fascinating. I did a bit of work on this as part of my masters. Originally it was …

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