British tech startup BfB Labs is now paving the way for a new generation of games controlled by our emotions, with the release of its innovative Emotionally Responsive Gaming (ERG) platform and trying out a Beta version of Champions of the Shengha gave us a chance to try the new concept out. To play the game we needed a simple bio-monitor (it’s a small Bluetooth ear clip monitors your pulse rate), ERG is then able to add a new dimension to gameplay by bringing the emotional state of players directly into the experience. Players are rewarded if they can control their feelings and stay calm under pressure.
“The sector is currently focused on improving the physicality of gameplay through VR and AR, or a forever evolving challenge via Artificial Intelligence. What we’re doing is challenging players with not only conquering the strategic challenges of the game, but keeping a cool head whilst doing it.
“Our BfB Sensor is the nearest we can get to exporting an individual’s psyche into a game. We know stress and pressure affect our judgement and how we perform in the real world, so to be the first to transport those same biometrics into a virtual world is really very exciting and will open a whole new world of possibilities.”
So how does the game work? Champions of the Shengha is a fantasy card-battling game where players are challenged to combine their strategy skills with emotional control on the way to becoming the ultimate Shengha warrior. Throughout the game, players collect a selection of powerful spells, creatures, weapons and armour, each of which represent different attacking and defensive strengths. To use these in battle and make them more powerful, players must summon their inner strength and stay focused. The game helps players master these skills through the use of breathing techniques that can rapidly bring players into the zone and boost their performance.
The BfB Labs team ran six trials of Champions of the Shengha over the last year, with groups of between ten and 100 players playing regularly for one to four weeks. Results have shown not only that players quickly learn to apply new skills of emotional control in the game, but that they start to use them in their everyday lives, to deal with stressful situations. This, says the company, demonstrates the exciting potential of ERG to equip gamers with valuable life skills, while adding a new dimension to their gaming experience. As a parent I love the idea of this as a way of helping H control his emotions, which is something that children find very difficult and it takes a while for them to learn the skills. This gives them a way of learning to do this without having an impact on others, which I think is a good thing. We haven’t been able to play the game that long yet, but H is already learning about breathing techniques.
I was intrigued to hear about schools that had tried out the game. Charlotte Berry, Deputy Head at The Billericay School, where BfB Labs ran its largest trial, said:
“Our students were really motivated to learn how to breath properly, control their emotions and put lots of practice staying cool and focused – the kind of things that we can never normally get them to do! Many of them started to use what they’d learned straightaway – to prepare for tests or deal with issues with their family or friends. It’s certainly been a very interesting experience to be a part of.”
Champions of the Shengha are seeking investment via crowdfunding platform indiegogo.com and you have until the end of tomorrow (25th November) to get involved.