Meditation Games

My previous post mentioned meditation as a form of unstructured play. I was interested in what other meditation games were out there, and I also wanted to know whether they would be gimmicky or actually facilitate the meditation process.

One game I found was Deepak Chopra Leela for Kinect. In the following video, skip ahead to the 2 minute mark. I think this is a really good example of a slightly structured task that keeps you mentally engaged, but with an unhurried pace and a soothing soundtrack. It’s a game because you can complete the task, but instead of mastering the mechanics, the goal is to achieve an inner peace. However, some of the other activities in this collection seem less peaceful. The game at 3:15 has you launching fireballs to destroy a sheet of rock. The sound effects are also very harsh and sudden, knocking you out of the flow state. Deepak Chopra Leela is a good example of meditation games done right as well as meditation games done wrong.

Another example I found was Guru Meditation, an Atari game created by GT faculty member Ian Bogost. The player sits on the Joyboard controller, which measures their weight distribution to determine balance and focus. There are subtle environmental changes on the screen to show the passage of time. As the user becomes balanced, a yogi on the screen will float into the air and a counter will show how long the person was able to stay balanced. Bogost also created an iPhone port of the game. I prefer the Joyboard input style over the iPhone because the user can keep a meditative posture and look straight ahead without having to hold onto anything. However, I like Bogost’s suggestion that playing this meditative game on your iPhone means you can’t be texting, twittering or emailing at the same time, and so you are forced to hold your attention on the meditative experience. Check out Bogost’s description of the game here: http://www.bogost.com/games/guru_meditation.shtml

Finally, here is a third game that I found through Bogost’s blog post. Wild Divine uses biosensor input to help the user reach a state of meditation. I haven’t played the game, but Bogost makes the argument that the graphics are actually too stimulating to induce a meditative state. Below is a sample image. You be the judge.

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