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Nevermind

       Mind games: Totem's top 10 serious games for mental health and well-being    In  2000 , the Mental Health Foundation started ‘Mental Health Awareness Week’.  The first issue focused on was ‘Stigma’. Since then there’s been Exercise, Sleep, Anxiety and many more. This year the focus is on  Mindfulness ; a mind – body approach to wellbeing.  Did you know one in four of us will suffer from a mental illness every year, yet despite its prevalence in society there's still a stigma attached to it. The games featured aim to help understand mental illness better. There are also games featured for individual wellbeing and how to look after it.        

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


          Depression Quest     This isn't a representation of all people who suffer from depression. Devised to grow awareness of depression and empathy for sufferers.  Depression Quest  has a received a mixed reception. The game is played as a story; the player reads text then chooses a given action. Future choices become blocked off depending on previous choices made.      

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


     Photographs feature at the top of the text. As the depression worsens static creeps into the photos. This grabbed my attention. A recent study observed that sufferers from depression experience  fuzzy thinking . The static seems to reflect that. I’ve heard there are four endings, I'm confident I can predict at least one of them. One play through proved emotionally taxing enough for me though.  Worth noting: there’s a warning to those who suffer from depression or anxiety NOT to play the game. Serious stuff!       Elude    Similar in focus to ‘Depression Quest’ with gameplay closer to Doodle Jump.  Elude  aims to show users the highs and lows a sufferer of depression experiences. The protagonist is a teenage/young adult male, statistically the highest risk demographics for suicide. The goal is to climb the trees and soar into the sky. Falling can result in a hole too big to climb out of. A simple metaphor for a complicated illness.  There is a summary of your journey that's a befitting addition to the game. How many times did you experience ‘happiness’?     

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


          Nevermind    Incorporating new technology  Nevermind  is the first on the list to use biofeedback. The gameplay reacts to the player's stress levels. In a stressful situation players must calm their emotions to continue moving forward. Like all great Serious Games, the lesson learned can applied to real life scenarios, resulting in reduced stress and promoting emotional wellbeing.       

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


      

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


       This adventure horror isn't for the faint hearted. A captivating gameplay mixing harsh realities and magical fairytales. Anyone who enjoyed Alice Madness Returns is sure to appreciate the graphics and story of Nevermind!        Super Be     TTER    This is a social online game. It's designed to build up core strengths – mental, physical, emotional and social wellbeing.  Players set their ‘Epic Win’, their ultimate goal which becomes the focus. Smaller activities are also set and once completed equate to ‘power ups’ to use against ‘bad guys’ – emotional stressing events. It’s an interesting game proven to boost a player’s wellbeing and personal growth. I’m a new user to  Super Better  but so far I have found it encouraging and engaging.     

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


          Lumosity    Developed by neuroscientists, a huge team is involved in monitoring the effectiveness of  Lumosity . The aim is to “improve core brain abilities—and empower users to live better, brighter lives”.  The mini-games are fun and challenging. I’m playing on a limited access version but I’ve already increased my attention levels. This can be played online or on your phone.        

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


      

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          
           
              Lumosity, Fish Game  
           
          

         
      
       
    

  


         MindLight    This immersive game uses therapeutic techniques to teach children to manage their emotions. The goal is to turn on all the lights in the mansion, overcoming fears and saving Granny. The player wears a neurofeedback device which monitors specific brain waves - relaxation and focused attention. Nominated on  Games For Change  for the Most Significant Impact award this is one to watch. I'm eagerly awaiting the release of this game.   Mindlight 's graphics are gorgeously cute too!       

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


      

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


            Skip a Beat     Using your iPhone or iPod touch, this game monitors and incorporates your heart rate. There are four modes to choose from - Zen, Balance, Spicy and Master! The goal is to teach how coffee, a stressful day at work, even posture effects heart rate. This gives the player an insight into their own mind, body and general wellbeing.  This  is an upcoming area in the games industry, expect to see a lot more health games and apps like this soon!       

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


      

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


            Happify       Not a game in itself but there are minigames!  Happify  trains your brain to be healthier. Depending on personality and goals the route differs. Players can focus on all different kinds of tasks. Small positives or re-connecting with an old friend, the aim is to grow self-esteem and wellbeing. There is a Beta App or you can ‘play’ online, the choice is yours.       

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


      

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


            Flowy     This game is specifically for people with anxiety but I think anyone can benefit from playing it if they are stressed and need to relax. Tailored to the players own breathing patterns, the player must concentrate their breathing into regular smaller breaths while collecting items to complete levels.  Flowy  is still in the experimental stages but the developers have done their research. This game is going to help a lot of people!       

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


      

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


      

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


            Mindsnacks    A language learning game! Learning a second language has been proven to increase brain size. The benefits of a second language are plentiful! Obviously there is the added bonus of not ordering a lemon when you actually meant a Citroen at the car hire in a Paris airport. But learning a second language has shown to increase memory abilities, cognitive skills and individuals are generally better mentally flexible.  Mindsnacks  are a great way to start learning a second language. Whatever language you choose there are minigames which teach you vocabulary in an exciting and competitive way – challenging your brain and keeping it active!     

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


     Now is the perfect time to start learning that second language. Next week's blog will be focused on the best games out there for learning a new language, all in time for your holidays!  There are a couple of games that are worth mentioning but didn’t make the list due to either not being released yet or no longer playable.       Guided Meditation VR    Not so much a game, but it uses gaming technology and deserves a mention. This is a virtual reality application which is due for launch alongside the consumer Oculus Rift virtual reality headset. It enables the user to be transported to a beautiful relaxing environment. Because the virtual reality headset has 360 degree visuals it is completely immersive – the user can escape to meditate in their chosen environment, even in their lunch break at work! At the moment voting is open so you can vote on locations, meditation options and more, or make suggestions of your own.     

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


     Soar – currently in development by  E-Learning Studio  s , the player is a bird in a world of grey. The object is to bring back colour to the world. The game will work with a heart monitoring device and aims to relieve stress through immersive escapism and breathing exercises.  Neuroracer – I just stumbled onto this game. It’s basically a driving game where the player has to mulit-task, working on the players cognitive, memory and multi-tasking skills. Research was undertaken with a group of individuals of all ages and there were some really positive results. The full study can be read on  Gazzaley .  I have trawled the site for recent news but short of a rumour on a mobile version being released, I haven’t been able to find anything.  Mental Illness is a real issue. A bit cliché, but if you don’t have your health, what have you got? These games deal with a variety of areas of mental health. Whether it's for creating awareness and empathy for sufferers or stimulating the brain, helping work towards a better, happier version of yourself. Appreciate life and be Mindful!  Don't forget to let us know your thoughts using the #TL10 on twitter. 

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MIND GAMES: TOTEM'S TOP 10 SERIOUS GAMES FOR MENTAL HEALTH AND WELL-BEING

In 2000, the Mental Health Foundation started ‘Mental Health Awareness Week’.  The first issue focused on was ‘Stigma’. Since then there’s been Exercise, Sleep, Anxiety and many more. This year the focus is on Mindfulness; a mind – body approach to wellbeing.

Did you know one in four of us will suffer from a mental illness every year.

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       Halloween Special: Scary Serious Games!     It’s Halloween and we’ve been thinking about ghouls and ghosts and the whole horror gaming genre and how that has been leveraged in the Serious Games world.   Here are a few Serious Games that sprung to mind:  Nevermind     

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          
           
              Image from www.nevermindgame.com with thanks   
           
          

         
      
       
    

  


     This game which is being developed by Flying Molusk uses BioFeedback technology to detect your heart rate, so that the game dynamically responds to your fear or anxiety:  “Nevermind is a biofeedback-enhanced adventure horror game that takes you into the dark and twisted world of the subconscious.  As you explore surreal labyrinths and solve the puzzles of the mind, a biofeedback sensor will monitor how scared or stressed you become moment-to-moment. If you let your fears get the best of you, the game will become harder. If you’re able to calm yourself in the face of terror, the game will be more forgiving.  Nevermind strives to create a haunting gameplay experience that also teaches you how to be more aware of your internal responses to stressful situations. If you can learn to control your anxiety within the disturbing realm of Nevermind, just imagine what you can do when it comes to those inevitable stressful moments in the real world…” www.nevermindgame.com  See the  website  for a video and more information  Typing of the Dead     

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          
           
              Image from www.thisisozone.com  
           
          

         
      
       
    

  


     In a nutshell, rather than shooting zombies in this game, players must type out words or phrases to kill them. The words or phrases which appear in a box increase in complexity as the game progresses.  Despite being a learning game, this game received huge praise for its humour and originality from mainstream critics. Here’s a  video  of the original, although further versions have been released since.  Zombies, Run!     

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


     This falls into the camp of health games. It is a mobile game that works with GPS.  From their website  www.zombiesrungame.com   “Zombies, Run! works anywhere and at any speed. We immerse you in an action-packed game and story mixed with your own music, whether you're jogging in a park, running along a trail, walking to work, or even running on treadmills.  And if you want a serious workout, turn on thrilling zombie chases that force you to speed up to escape the hordes!”  Here’s the  trailer  for Zombies, Run! 3:      Its known that using emotion of all kinds (even fear) can enhance the learning experience, helping to make the learning more ‘sticky’ and create those memory hooks, not to mention making the game more exciting and engaging. At Totem Learning we’ve taken inspiration from the horror game genre – for example by using certain mechanics to create a sense of claustrophobia in our game about the danger of enclosed spaces on board cargo ships (with GUI inspired by The Walking Dead!), and using paranoia and fear in a concept that we worked up for a multiplayer game that tests strengths in a variety of 21st Century skills: the Phoenix Project (for the trailer video click  here )     

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          
           
              The 'Gateway' hospital in Phoenix Project  
           
          

         
      
       
    

  


     A final point that I can’t omit on the subject of scary serious games is the Uncanny Valley. Animated avatars abound for role plays and interactions in the world of serious games – but have you ever seen games in which the characters (unintentionally) look terrifying? The uncanny valley hypothesis explains this:- as a simulated human (e.g. robot or 3D computer animation)  becomes more realistic the response is that of revulsion as we notice the differences. The below chart illustrates the point and a great video by Extra Credits on what this means for games can be found  here      

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


    

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          
           
              Repliee Q2 an Actroid developed by Osaka University and unveiled in 2003  
           
          

         
      
       
    

  


     If you know of other scary serious games, we'd love to hear about them @teamtotem

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HALLOWEEN SPECIAL: SCARY SERIOUS GAMES!

It’s Halloween and we’ve been thinking about ghouls and ghosts and the whole horror gaming genre and how that has been leveraged in the Serious Games world.

Here are a few Serious Games that sprung to mind:

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