The purpose of games is not just recreational. Ludic component is often present in rituals, traditions and education of literally any civilized society. I, for one, believe that games can serve to alleviate conflicts and misunderstandings in a manner similar to any form of art. They can mediate knowledge by abstraction and effectively be entire worlds that embody a worldview – like a language does, as well as serve as a form of relaxation.
“But, though both labour and rest are necessary, yet the latter is preferable to the first; and by all means we ought to learn what we should do when at rest: for we ought not to employ that time at play; for then play would be the necessary business of our lives. But if this cannot be, play is more necessary for those who labour than those who are at rest: for he who labours requires relaxation; which play will supply: for as labour is attended with pain and continued exertion, it is necessary that play should be introduced, under proper regulations, as a medicine: for such an employment of the mind is a relaxation to it, and eases with pleasure.”
Games are a medium – an interface that provides numerous layers of interactivity and that which is communicated is entirely up to the creators of a game. While you can’t taste, touch or smell anything in a game (yet), you can hear and see things and interact with objects.
“It is as reasonable to represent one kind of imprisonment by another as it is to represent anything that really exists by that which exists not.”
With this project I aim to create a virtual world, which provides the player with new layer of input. Traditionally when you want something to happen in a game, you have to ‘touch’ something, be it either a button or an object or some UI element in a game and the ‘touch’ can be direct or simulated by ‘looking’, for example. In addition to this traditional model I have added a channel by which you can ‘think’ a thing and receive feedback from the environment. I have incorporated the OpenBCI brain-computer interface into the Oculus Rift headset and created a game that can read certain patterns of the player’s brain activity and mapped them onto mechanics within said game. I have also added a Leap Motion hand tracking device to my Oculus Rift which provides the player with an ‘avatar’ of his or her actual hands, giving a deeper sense of immersion and agency. Much like the skill of pressing a button in a game can be trained, ‘thinking’ towards a particular state of mind can also be trained. The game environment provides the player with instructions and cues which can lead the brain onto a certain activity and when the pattern is recognized, it gives the player feedback in a form of a game mechanic. For example, the player can be told to perform a mental exercise that leads to concentration. When the player succeeds at concentrating for a continuous period, a stone in front of the player lifts and levitates for as long as the player can maintain the state of concentration. If the player finds it difficult, a different task can be given that can lead the player onto the same activity more easily, because each brain is unique and different tasks can be difficult for different players. Relaxation is another basic pattern that can be recognized and on their own, these two patterns can already serve in a multitude of functions, but there is always a connection between one state of mind and another and in this case – if the player finds it difficult to concentrate, it might very well be that he or she is too tense and finding a way to relax first can lead to a more successful session of concentration.
“The mind is everything. What you think, you become”
One of the underlying ideas for this project is to form an authentic feedback loop between the player and the game via player’s own brain. The brain in this is not just an input tool for ‘pressing a button’ like your thumb is, it is also the receiver of the feedback that is generated by its’ own activity. The game interprets the activity of the brain into an organic game mechanic – an abstraction of the activity and in so doing gives the user an opportunity to perceive it in different light. It provides perspective to awareness of ones’ own mind. Even if the player sometimes can be unaware of what is going on in his or her brain, the game will always show the truth and in cases when the player does not believe that something is going on in the mind – it will leave no other choice than to believe.
Yoga and connectedness.
Bend the reality with your will.