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Video Games to Help You Relax 263

An Anonymous Coward writes: "Irish game developers have unveiled their latest project, a game that helps you to relax, through the use of electrodes that are attached to a player's fingers and as the person relaxes, their dragon moves faster. The game uses galvanic skin response technology which works by measuring the ability of the skin to conduct electricity."
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Video Games to Help You Relax

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  • by diparfitt ( 219811 ) on Wednesday May 08, 2002 @11:38AM (#3484719)
    like that called sex?
  • by theCURE ( 551589 ) on Wednesday May 08, 2002 @11:39AM (#3484725) Homepage
    my strategy? drink until i pass out. my dragon moves the fastest when i'm so relaxed i wet myself.
  • Quake 3 already does this for me, provided I win. If I lose, I move on to punching holes in the walls of my apartment.
  • by millia ( 35740 ) on Wednesday May 08, 2002 @11:40AM (#3484734) Homepage
    betcha when they find out it uses the advanced technology of their e-meters, they'll sue.
    • > betcha when they find out it uses the advanced technology of their e-meters, they'll sue.

      So? You just get real good at the game, walk into a Clam office, hook yourself up, and beat the cult's "auditor" at his own game.

      Then you walk out, clacking your teeth together loudly, while ranting (between clacks) about how "YOUR PUNY E-METER IS NO MATCH FOR US! SOON OUR EMPEROR WILL ESCAPE FROM HIS PRISON AND SOON, ALL J00R BASE WILL BELONG TO XENU!"

      The jaw-clacking really does fuck 'em up - I actually did the "clack your jaws and say 'poor little clams, snap snap snap'" routine on one cultist who was "body-routing fresh meat into the org" (read: "recruiting gullible people on the street by offering free personality tests"), and the cultist actually *flinched* and rubbed its jaw. I just laughed, said "Hail Xenu", and walked on. What a cult of weaklings. Why can't they make it go right? *giggle*

  • Soma (Score:3, Interesting)

    by dmomo ( 256005 ) on Wednesday May 08, 2002 @11:40AM (#3484735)
    This could be very therapeutic. It's funny that people need incentive for well-being. Some of us need to learn to chill out!
  • by anzha ( 138288 ) on Wednesday May 08, 2002 @11:40AM (#3484736) Homepage Journal
    ...yelling and screaming at the computer because their dragons are going waaay too slow and getting even less relaxed because of it? ;)
  • by rnb ( 471088 )
    Cool idea, I admit, but video games already help me relax. I wouldn't play them if I felt like it was going to work (hence the reason I wasn't that fond of The Sims).

    And yeah, my heart gets going a bit faster when I'm playing games, but isn't that part of relaxing? The enjoyment and the thrill of the game? It seems to me that if you're specifically trying to get a person's heart rate down, won't that just lead to the player either falling asleep or becoming bored by the game?
    • by Tackhead ( 54550 ) on Wednesday May 08, 2002 @12:13PM (#3485015)
      > And yeah, my heart gets going a bit faster when I'm playing games, but isn't that part of relaxing?

      To borrow a Clintonian phrase, it depends on the meaning of relaxing.

      These guys appear to be using the metaphor of the game as a way to make biofeeback (that is, the user training himself to enter a particular mental state at will), well, less boring.

      For gaming, I'm one of those old-school 80s types. Get an arcade machine and master one of those pure-adrenaline-overkill games. Robotron:2084 and Tempest are probably tops for this. Lots of flashing lights, sounds, and you're totally interrupt-driven the duration of the play.

      When you're just starting out, it's frustrating. When you're merely "good", it's fun, but you work up a sweat. When you get past that point and can keep a game going for 15-20 minutes, you get a hypnotic effect. Most players call it "the zone", and it's probably not too different from the mental states achieved by great athletes - you're barely conscious of yourself, focussed solely on your game, and your performance skyrockets.

      The neat part is that you're no longer thinking per se, you just... umm... are. It's not "move joystick to dodge missile", it's "move this way and watch missile that I didn't even see fly harmlessly past me".

      Freaky shit.

      • by CyberDruid ( 201684 ) on Wednesday May 08, 2002 @02:35PM (#3485966) Homepage
        The psychologist Csikszentmihalyi (I think I spelled it right...) calls that state "flow" and it probably is the same that a top athlete feels. You can enter it under virtually any activity that has well defined rules, the right difficulty and fast feedback on success and failure. Check out one of his books.
    • When we have lan parties over hear even the more relaxing games such as starcraft are an adrenaline rush!
  • ...get all worked up and pissed off. I used to get the best results with Tribes2. :)
  • Well, I think this sounds a lot nicer than that Painstation idea we saw a few weeks ago!

    But seriously doesn't almost everyone find games relaxing? No matter how heated things get in Unreal (me being rubbish and killed a lot!) I always feel much better when I'm done.
  • I don't know about you, but fast moving dragons always cause me to relax.

    It would seem to me, that the developers would have better luck going in the opposite direction (i.e. the goal being to get the dragon to walk). You would start off the game with the dragon flying, and as you relax and calm down the dragon also relaxes and calms down...
  • I am just wondering how it is possible to be forced to relax.
    Won't this put even more pressure on the person?
    Please tell me how this should work.
  • by Soul-Burn666 ( 574119 ) on Wednesday May 08, 2002 @11:42AM (#3484759) Journal
    More than a few years ago I saw on TV a game like this, where you begin as a fish, and as you relax more you become a human, and then start flying and getting to the stars....
  • ... thing []!
    (I've tried neurofeedback... quite helpful if you give it 8-10 sessions)
  • by 68030 ( 215387 )
    Various forms of 'biofeedback' games have been
    around for at least a decade. I can clearly
    remember a stereotypical british woman 'playing'
    some such game on the program Beyond 2000 on
    the discovery channel in the early 90s. If I
    recall correctly the game had you start off as a
    fish or some such 'low' creature, and as you
    relaxed you evolved into various higher forms of
    life. Thought it got a little weird near the end,
    I belive the final form had you turn into an angel
    and then a star.

    Perhaps the ultimate form of relaxation is to
    turn into a space baby.
  • Just to relax?
    I preffer the old good way - SEX :)
  • of loading up on caffeine to stay up and game all night?
  • AWESOME! (Score:3, Funny)

    by Penguinoflight ( 517245 ) on Wednesday May 08, 2002 @11:43AM (#3484774) Homepage Journal
    The first game you can actually fall asleep and win! I have a feeling it won't be much fun *yawn*, er oops =)
  • by GombuMstr ( 532073 ) on Wednesday May 08, 2002 @11:45AM (#3484788)
    It starts out like this. a game, a pleasant game that surrounds with pleasang glowing balls. If we play the game the game rewards you with a wonderful mellow feeling....... Crap. Next thing you know no one will be controlling the ship.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I vaguely remember an episode where Commander Riker brings back an alien device where relaxing and allowing the little discs to go into a vortex was the way to win.

    Eventually the entire crew got hooked on it and had their minds controlled by the aliens.
  • by i like your eyes ( 571086 ) on Wednesday May 08, 2002 @11:47AM (#3484802)
    Seriously, I could beat this game in my sleep!

  • by nurightshu ( 517038 ) <> on Wednesday May 08, 2002 @11:48AM (#3484808) Homepage Journal

    A few months back on here, there was an article [] about these Germans who invented the Painstation [], which offered a little negative reenforcement when you screwed up. I think a truly challenging game would be one where you had to relax, or you risked getting shocked. See how relaxed you can be under threat of torture!

    Come to think of it, that might not be a bad way to train yourself for polygraph examinations, either...

  • Tranquility (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Judge_Fire ( 411911 ) on Wednesday May 08, 2002 @11:48AM (#3484809) Homepage
    This cool game, tranquility [], can help you relax in that flowing, feeling-like-plankton kinda way, you know?

    There's no dying, all levels are custom built for you by with help from their server ... and more weird stuff that I've found myself addicted to.

    Works with OS X, OS 9, Win 98 - XP, while a Linux version is in the works.

  • I hope that this is not another piece of technology that gets taken too far and inevitably falls into the wong hands. If it becomes popular and we start to see the hardware being destributed free or below cost for use on Internet games, beware! It will have all boiled down to marketing.

    Think spyware. If ads are placed in the game, they may be monitoring your subconcios response!

    We might see (or not realize) that the progress of a game becomes more prefferable when our reaction to certain stimulii "improves".
  • How about a game that delivers painful shocks if you're tense. Now that's motivation.
  • Can this be used for mind control? "Relax, now repeat after me - Al Qaeda is good, Bush is bad"
  • by Seth Finkelstein ( 90154 ) on Wednesday May 08, 2002 @11:51AM (#3484839) Homepage Journal
    There's lots of biofeedback-based little projects. There's even biofeedback development SDKs, so that you can roll your own if you're interested. For example, take a look at the (emphasis added):

    WaveRider []

    WaveRider DDE Software Developers' Kit The WaveRider DDE SDK provides a platform for rapid prototype and development of Windows applications in the fields of medicine, biofeedback, Virtual Reality and game development.

    Sig: What Happened To The Censorware Project ( []

  • I wonder how long it is before someone writes a linux polygraph app using the electrodes that the game uses. I can see it now--Linux users hired at an increasing rate at the FBI. They pass the polygraph test with flying colors!
  • does this seem strange to anyone else? Now games that were supposed to make us jump and get scared are encouraging us to not react as strongly. Sounds to me like they're just de-sensitizing us even more to those exciting video games that were meant to get our hearts racing and the adrenaline pumping in the first place.
  • I imagine that there is an optimum range for the skin resistance. I for one probably wouldn't want to have the resistance of a peice of Wood (insert joke here) or the conductance of a piece of copper.

    I thought the objections to skin response were based on things like sweating. I would think that a person sweating heavily would not be relaxed. What are the reasons behind the rise or drop in skin resistance anyhow?

    • Interestingly, some people have very high resistance. I've met electricians who could lick a finger, slap a hot 120 line and not get much of a jolt out of it (due I presume to some natural character, enhanced by calluses/etc). And I've met people who could just get a bit of a tingle out of a spark plug. I suspect they'd go very slowly in this game. Wouldn't the kinda folks who get fairly nervous and sweat electolytes (hence enhanced conductivity) be the best at this?
      • Now you did it, you made me do a google search on galvanic skin response [].

        The first few hits are interesting, although some of these seem to get into areas that may hit a few raw nerves for some folks.

        You comment makes me recal a story about an electician who would check such things out just like you described. The trick in this case as that they would stand on one leg. Why? The werte disabled, and were missing a leg. They made sure to stand on a wooden leg, and so would not pass electricity to the ground, or a metal floor, etc.

        Don't try this at home.

        • Interstingly, the real danger path for alternating current for a human is through the heart. This is one reason some folks working on custom video boards and monitors and such do so with one hand tucked in the back of the belt. That way a worst case path is through the hand, through the body, through the leg, to ground. Not good, but better than one hand to the other by way of the chest.

          I recall being taught that the most lethal currents are alternating, in the 100-200 mA range. (Now, obviously an UberCurrent is gonna blow chunks out of you...). Also, for AC, the most dangerous frequency is supposed to be around the same frequency the heart beats. Standard 120 Vac will setup a wonderful fibrilation. For some reason I recall power mowers being dangerous as they'll lock your hands to them if you somehow cut into the cord in such a way as to cause a problem.

          Electricity is neat... and most varieties (ie car batteries, etc) are pretty harmless. But some things (like a main from the street or high voltage) you don't screw with. At least not twice...
  • Galvanic skin response meters have been around for AGES. Basically, they operate on the theory that the less relaxed a person is, the more conductive their skin becomes. It's extremely simple technology.

    Back in high school, I took a psychology class and one day the instructor (who had a Phd), brought in a friend who had hooked up a galvanic skin response meter to the serial port of a PC.

    This thing had some really trippy colors and effects (much like some visualisations in WinAmp) and it would periodically reset it's "baseline" of your current galvanic skin measurement, then display a corridor or a horizon with some sort of visually indicated goal, such as a door. To move forward to reach the door, you would have to relax more (thus lowering the conductivity of your skin).

    It was rather neat, actually.

  • by mach-5 ( 73873 )
    The player wears a cap packed with tiny sensors that pick up changes to brain wave patterns associated with concentration and relaxation.

    Wait! Better read that EULA! That cap is uploading your brain waves to the internet and they become property of XYZ corporation!
  • sci-fi deja vu (Score:4, Interesting)

    by mblase ( 200735 ) on Wednesday May 08, 2002 @11:54AM (#3484867)
    "If you can get it to fly, it means you have got into a nice relaxed state," he explained. The game takes place in a virtual 3D world set aboard a starship in space. The environment is designed to immerse the player, drawing more of their attention and making the feedback more effective.

    Why does this remind me of a certain Star Trek: TNG [] episode I've seen?
  • by brad3378 ( 155304 ) on Wednesday May 08, 2002 @11:55AM (#3484876)
    This has been around for a while for the treatment of attention deficit disorder. However, for A.D.D. patients, the goal is to focus better instead of relaxing. Still a very cool treatment if ya ask me.

    Here's a story [] you might find interesting.
  • I will kick but while I am sleeping....
  • The game uses galvanic skin response technology

    Game my ass. Everyone knows this is technology used by the Romulons to brainwash their victims. Sheesh... You guys go ahead and get one. Nobody's brainwashing me.
  • You're winning.

    When I start getting my butt kicked at CS I get really stressed. :-)

    But really: I've been using video games to relax for a long time. I can't relax when I watch TV because I keep over-analizing everything (such as picking out all the scientific flaws in a tv program). I can relax much better when all I have to do is point and shoot. :-)
  • Electrodes (Score:5, Funny)

    by MongooseCN ( 139203 ) on Wednesday May 08, 2002 @11:59AM (#3484906) Homepage
    ...that helps you to relax, through the use of electrodes that are attached to a player's fingers...

    Are you relaxed?
    No not really...
    What the??
    Are you relaxed?
    No not now!
    What the hell?!?
    Are you relaxed?
    How the heck am I suppose to be relaxed when..
  • If you don't relax fast enough, they should use those electrodes to give you electrical shocks as punishment.
  • The Church of Scientology will most likely sue these people for stealing their proprietary and highly secret E-meter technology.
  • the Other 90% (Score:2, Interesting)

    by invispace ( 159213 )
    About 10 years ago I used to work at a place called the Other 90%. The ownerr was a guy named Ron something or other. He was the guy who killed Atari. We made a device called the MindDrive which basically was a finger unit that used galvonic skin response.

    Needless to say it was useless for gamers. Gamers want to sit down and play games, not teach their bodies to react to their thoughts.

    A radio station in San Francisco, where we were located, found that a peeled grape could play the games better than they could.

    There's a lot more to gvs than relaxing.

    This has been done before... I wish companies would do their research every once-in-a-while.
  • not relaxed (Score:5, Funny)

    by Traa ( 158207 ) on Wednesday May 08, 2002 @12:16PM (#3485027) Homepage Journal
    It's 7:30am I just had 3 mug's of espresso a chocolate bar and am allready eyeing the mountain dew. I have a programming deadling this friday.

    Let me play that game and see dragons fly BACKWARDS!
    • by daeley ( 126313 )
      Too much stress. Just get the Caffeine IV System (TM). I tried the gum, I tried the patch. (Don't even ask about the suppositories.) Nothing is as good as hitting the mainline at dawn. Instant ability to deal with the world. Never use your snooze alarm again.

      Flying dragons backwards will be child's play. *You* will fly backwards in real life, and every housefly will look and sound like a dragon.

      (Void where prohibited. May cause death.)
  • That puts a whole new meaning to "chasing the dragon".
  • This reminds me of those dreams where you try to run and the harder you try, the slower you get.

    It's natural for humans to become tense when in a combat or high-stress situation. The ability to relax under fire is a great skill; it allows you to make wiser, more rational decisions that have a better outcome, and implement those decisions more quickly.

    Classic example is my mother, whom you cannot rush. When you try to hurry her, she gets flustered, makes mistakes, and does things in the wrong order. Let her go at her own pace, usually very relaxed, and whatever she's doing will be done quicker and better.

    Same thing goes for programming. Take away the deadline, and the programmer will produce a better product, if not in less time, then in not much more time.
  • by gosand ( 234100 ) on Wednesday May 08, 2002 @12:21PM (#3485070)
    Top Irish games:

    Black and Tan
    Castle Guinnesstein
    The Sims: Pub Expansion Pack
    Virtua Pub
    Tom O'Shaunessey's Pub Recon
    World Cup Virtual Hooligan

    • Microsoft Pub Simulator.

      As Real as it Gets.
  • So that the more relaxed you are, the stronger your armor and weapons are. So to become a more efficient killer, you need to be extremely calm while doing so. Imagine the fallout from this.

    Instead of having kids walk into a school armed with guns and shooting the whole place up in a violent rage, they'll walk in calmly, casually without any rasied emotion whatsoever, and silently stab someone in the back, and keep going as if nothing happened.

    Another fun possibility is a game called "Lie detector trainer" where you can "practice" lying to the computer without generating the appropriate emotional response. And how you proceed in the game is dependant on how well you can lie. Of course, people might cheat and tell the truth. There's always an exploit.

  • ... and I've never felt so relaxed as when I am on the run for frags in one on one deathmatch in Doom II. There is something incredibly soothing in flowing through the passages, holding your BFG 9000, shooting it in the corner to instantly clean up the hiding fellow in the blue room with armor and shotgun, take the shotgun as it pops, flow out of the room into the passages again where you shoot the other guy as he poped and took plasma gun and immediatelly follow by shooting him at the chaingun corner.

    It makes you feel so relaxed and concentrated at the same time, you've never felt better. You feed on the negative emotions as your opponent dies in quick succession and the whole world (errr.. wad) is yours!

  • From the story:
    "I had a Walkman with an Enya tape so I suggested that he go to bed and listen to it to see if it calmed him and it actually helped him sleep," Dr McDarby told the BBC programme Go Digital.
    "That surprised me," continued Dr McDarby. "The 'Enya Treatment' reduces most people to gibbering idiocy."
  • "...and this is Nick, our system adminstrator. You'll be sitting back here with him." (this is 1997, and i am the new phone tech) He grins at me but doesnt say anything.

    A few hours later...

    Nick swings around in his chair.

    "BZZZZZZT!!!" he sprays out.

    "I'm saaaaaad!" ye declares in a scratchy animal voice.

    "BaZZZZZZZZZTTTT" he repeats.

    "I'm haaaaapy!" (same scratchy voice)

    "BZZZZZZZzzzT! I'm saaad! Bzzt! I'm happy!"

    Then he swings around in his chair and is quiet for the rest of the day. Later on I asked him what that was about, and he described the obvious, "well, that was me on electro shock therapy. what, you didn't get it? bad tech!" and thats when he developed the (bad) habit of beaning me in the head with pennys as hard as he could. "Just the broze stuff, nothing grey", he retorted. *sigh*

  • by Alien54 ( 180860 ) on Wednesday May 08, 2002 @12:49PM (#3485269) Journal
    Here is an MIT Page that prove interesting.

    has a rig that will hook up to you typical unix box. Pretty pictures too. ml []

  • by isorox ( 205688 ) on Wednesday May 08, 2002 @01:02PM (#3485331) Homepage Journal
    OK, diseration due in in 18 hours. not started it yet. A quick game of civ 3 before to get me going.

    OK disertation due in in 18 minutes, not started it yet. A quick round of quake 3 to get me going.

    OK disertation due in in 17 minutes 12 second, not started it yet. Get Stressed.
  • It would be really good if I had to relax (hence think) before I could edit a really important file, like /etc/passwd or before I could even become root. That would resolve 90% of the errors I make when I'm doing sys admin stuff.
  • Think about it. Get a battery and some cheap airline headphones. Your soundcard is an analog to digital converter, meaning that you could strip the ends off the headphones and attach the ends of the wires to your skin with tape, while having a power source in between the two wires. Your sound card could measure conductance, and could probably do a pretty good job of it.
    Any program designed to record and manipulate audio could also manipulate your results...

    Anything I'm missing here?
  • Game:
    Did you purchase this game legally?


    . . . No you didn't. [dials up BSA]
  • I mean .. what could be more therapeutic after driving home through countless retards on the road called "drivers" with cellphones or whatnot ... and then coming home... pulling them out of their cars beating the blood out of them ... and then making designs in the pavement with your bloody footprints... oh and steal their car and money!! :) I love it.
  • Heck, it was even called "Relax"! Here's a link [] to an old preview from an 1984 8-bit home computer magazine
  • Polygraph tests have become completely useless due to a whole new generation growing up with the ability to stay completely calm while raping and pillaging much less lying.

  • It's been around since the late 1980's. This is nothing new.
  • I've always been curious about biofeedback devices like this.

    Is it possible to learn how to control one's own heart rate, given enough practice?

    How about body temperature or stomach contractions?

  • Imagine setting it to show you more pornographic pictures the more relaxed you got.
    Possibility 1:
    * You relax
    * You get exciting pictures
    * You get excited
    * Pictures get boring
    * Cycle repeats until
    * You get so frustrated you get nothing but pictures of fluffy kittens.

    Possibility 2:
    * You learn to relax to get the hard core images
    * You get habituated, so sex sends you to sleep.
  • [leveling double-barreled shotgun at oncoming pinkies] ... I *AM* relaxed!!!

"An open mind has but one disadvantage: it collects dirt." -- a saying at RPI