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This Video Game Knows When You're Scared--And Gets Scarier

February 17, 2014 | Telepresence Options


Story and images by Joshua Rivera / Fast Co. Labs

In the future, horror games will know when you're scared. And then they'll get scarier. Proof: the currently-in-development horror-adventure game Nevermind, which just launched a Kickstarter campaign last week. The game pairs classic first-person exploration with biofeedback data from a heart rate monitor in order to tell when you're scared and turn up the horror.

"In Nevermind, you get scared, you get stressed, and the world will punish you for giving in to those feelings," says creative director Erin Reynolds, "But it rewards you for calming down by becoming easier."

While biofeedback seems like a perfect fit for the horror genre, Reynolds believes that the technology is key to moving the video game medium forward as a whole, allowing for an entirely new level of immersion.

"I think it really speaks to the potential of games being able to know more about you than you know about yourself, and having this intimate response to your internal reactions," Reynolds says.

That internal response surprised her during playtesting, as it illuminated "just how personal one's sense of horror is. It made for some design challenges, because it means you need to have something for everything so that everyone's buttons get pushed."

But those challenges also served as the ultimate affirmation for Reynolds: She was scaring people.

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