This week as I sat through a presentation from Intel on its gaming effort and a game called Nevermind, I thought that perhaps this game could help make someone a better executive—or at least one that could live longer. This game uses Intel’s RealSense camera to tie game play into biometrics. The more scared and stressed you get, the harder the game is to play. If you get into a stress/fear loop, you can lose and that should, over time, train you in methods to lower stress and fear—both of which are not only bad for your health but can also lead to making really bad, rushed decisions.
I’m fascinated with the idea of blending biofeedback into a game to make the game more interesting and to actually train your behavior to make you live longer and be more successful.
A Game Designed by a Woman
The CEO of the Nevermind effort is a young woman named Erin Reynolds who developed this core concept as part of her Master’s degree thesis. The technology market in general and gaming in particular has lacked the input from women. This fact became really evident last year with an event called the Gamergate scandal, which exposed several situations involving abuse and sexual harassment against women in gaming.
Intel’s top executives, one of whom is a woman, got motivated to do something about both the hostile gaming environment and the lack of women in technology and they are taking every public opportunity to promote a pro-woman agenda as a result.
At this event, they promoted this effort and showcased Kate Edwards, the executive director of the International Game Developers Association, who committed to doubling the number of woman in this industry within a few years to better match the percentage of the number of women who buy games.
This is a noble effort and worth promoting as often as possible. I should also point out that Nevermind is the kind of game many of us always thought would showcase the unique advantages of a woman behind the helm. It is a unique approach that blends the typical core requirements of making money and being entertaining (not necessarily in that order) with doing something beneficial for the player. It adds a dimension to gaming that you wouldn’t think would come as naturally to men.
The use of the RealSense camera and biofeedback in a game is relatively unique, but I expect not for long. Consider how live entertainment can become more engaging when an entertainer can pick up on the energy (or lack thereof) in an audience and dynamically change their performance to optimize the experience. That is what is being attempted in the game Nevermind, but it could also be done with streaming music (e.g., changing the order or content of a playlist to raise energy for exercise or lower it for rest). The application here is to interactively optimize the excitement of the game by changing it up dynamically to enhance fear. With fear comes stress and by tying the success of the player to their ability to control their fear and stress, players not only improve game play, but they should also improve the handling of those feelings in the real world.
This game forms a test bed for a tool that could help people suffering from stress, anxiety, PTSD, or similar conditions to help mitigate their symptoms and maybe even overcome them.
I could certainly see this game, a future version of it, or a variation on the theme eventually being used to help rising executives deal with the increasing stress of their positions and to help them become better executives as a result.
I think Nevermind not only showcases some of what is coming in gaming, such as tools like Intel’s RealSense camera, but also the very real benefits of having women contributing in the industry. This same kind of broad-brush approach could improve a lot of products in the market and help make a lot of companies that now appear greedy and heartless become much less so.
In the end, if you like to game and want to lower your stress, check out Nevermind. But if you are, like me, interested in a better future, get behind Intel’s effort to drive more women into technology, because if Nevermind is any example, that should lead to a much less scary and stressful world.
Rob Enderle is President and Principal Analyst of the Enderle Group, a forward-looking emerging technology advisory firm. With over 30 years’ experience in emerging technologies, he has provided regional and global companies with guidance in how to better target customer needs; create new business opportunities; anticipate technology changes; select vendors and products; and present their products in the best possible light. Rob covers the technology industry broadly. Before founding the Enderle Group, Rob was the Senior Research Fellow for Forrester Research and the Giga Information Group, and held senior positions at IBM and ROLM. Follow Rob on Twitter @enderle, on Facebook and on Google+