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This Game Knows When You're Afraid...And How To Make It Worse

The human mind can be a scary place. All of us have a few dark corners of our psyche that we'd rather didn't exist. These black spots on our thoughts could be anything from warped impulses to traumatic memories to perverse thoughts. Things get even more twisted when we start exploring the deep corners of the subconscious mind, in which all the worse components of our being rest.

It should go without saying, then, that physically exploring such areas of our mind would be anything but pleasant. 

In Nevermind, however, that's exactly what you're doing. This innovative survival horror title thrusts you into the role of a Neuroprober; a physician who uses cutting-edge technology to venture into the minds of trauma victims for whom traditional methods of treatment have proven ineffective. Each "level" of the game, then, takes place within the subconscious mind of one of these victims, where you'll explore the surreal and terrifying results of their psychological trauma, collecting fragments of memories to discover what left them in such a state. 

Within the minds of their patients, the Neuroprober has a great deal to fear. See, a victim's subconscious doesn't exactly take kindly to interlopers, nor does it appreciate having its 'layers' pulled back to reveal the raw pain of the trauma with which it's desperately trying to cope.As such, it'll lash out in unexpected, disturbing, and terrifying ways in an effort to rid itself of its intruders. 

Sounds like a pretty cool concept so far, no? A sort of "Psychonauts-meets-Amnesia" idea? Now, consider how much more terrifying such a game would be if it kept track of your anxiety levels, and ramped up its scare tactics and difficulty the more agitated you became. 

That concept forms the core of Nevermind, which began as a 2012 MFA thesis project at USC's Interactive Media Program. Led by industry veteran Erin Reynolds, the team was able to create a single fully-functional level to serve as a proof-of-concept of both the game and the core technology.Since then, it's been featured in numerous festivals and nominated for a whole host of awards for innovation and technical achievement. 

It's not difficult to see why. Not only does Nevermind have the potential to be one of the scariest horror titles ever made, it's somewhat ironically also got a great deal of potential as a tool for therapy. According to the Kickstarter Page, Nevermind is currently being tested as a therapeutic tool to help patients suffering from issues related to stress, anxiety, PTSD, and similar conditions. Informal testing results have thus far been promising, and the team is currently in talks with researchers to put the game through a few legitimate critical trials. 

Nevermind works by using specialized biofeedback hardware to detect a player's heart rate variability while they play. Whenever the player becomes afraid or anxious, the game will respond dynamically to their stress levels, directly impacting gameplay. Pretty much any off-the-shelf heart monitor will work, though the current demo uses the Garmin Heart Monitor Strap. Players who want to get the full experience without the proper hardware can instead set up the game to track camera and player movement, formulating a prediction about player anxiety based on how they play. The developers hope to include biofeedback sensors with the game when it launches. 

The human mind can be a frightening place to explore firsthand - particularly if one's subconscious doesn't want you there in the first place. Nevermind's developers are taking that fear to the next level - the minds your in know when you're scared, and will capitalize on that as much as possible to get rid of you. After playing it, you may never look at your thoughts the same way again. 

You can find out more information and donate to the Kickstarter here

 

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Nicholas Greene
Nick's Games Haven
InventorSpot.com
Follow me on Twitter @OmniscientSpork

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