For the Expansion section (see project map) of the Metacognition Revolution I am making a game aimed at 16yr olds taking part in the MYRIAD Project. The game’s purpose is to enthuse and inspire the young people and schools to learn more about the benefits of Meditation.
This is an interactive game for two players. The game uses live data from the player’s brains, the data is extracted using the Muse Headband, an commercial piece of technology which uses EEG Sensors to track the brains activity. The game is designed to teach the simple, but profound, concept that the way we think directly affects our subjective perception of reality, and that Meditation helps us to see the world around us more clearly, a small step towards bringing about a Metacognition Revolution of thought.
Also, crucially, this is about spreading the message that Meditation is about more then one person isolating themselves and sitting alone working on just their own personal well being, and to re-define meditation as an activity that is as much about community as the individual. Meditation can help us to shift away from seeing ourselves as lonely and isolated individuals pitted against each other and our environment into a perspective where we perceive ourselves as unique and complex instances of energy which are part of a vast, and potentially incomprehensible to the individual, net of interconnectivity.
I started by storyboarding a few ideas for interactions, and I then went over those with Emily Wren, who is a science teacher at a UK secondary school. After some development here is the basic concept for the game as it is now:
Two players start the game wearing a MetacognitionRevolution helmet, inside the helmet is the Muse Headband being used to collect live data from the players brains. The helmet blocks their view of each other and the world around them, this state represents the normal state of being for most people. Once the helmets have been put into position a ‘baseline’ reading of their brain signals will be taken.
The game will use both the Alpha and Beta waves to sense the difference between an agitated and calm mind. Rather then having each helmet work independently, which might make the game feel competitive rather then cooperative, the data streams will be combined.
Brains are, of course complex, and breaking down the different types of brainwaves into a simplistic a = Meditation is tricky. For the purpose of this game, rather then trying to get an accurate reading on whether someone is Meditating successfully, which my research has shown to be impossible with the level of on the market tech available to me, I will instead be trying to get a reading of comparative relaxation. The purpose is to reward the participants for having taken even a small amount of control over their mental state.
Alpha waves are a good indication of relaxation, they are brainwaves that cycle within the range of 8 – 12 Hz and are usually generated in the brains right hemisphere or in a synchronized pattern between both right and left hemispheres. Alpha waves kick in when our mind and body are relaxed and relatively free of stress.
Beta are considered fast brain wave activity indicating a state of alertness and critical thinking, cycling with a frequency range from 12 Hz and 38 Hz. High levels of Beta are associated with stress and anxiety..
Both participants will be asked to Meditate along with a simple spoken guided Meditation Track. Once their minds have ‘calmed’ comparative to the baseline reading the helmets will both open, allowing the participants to see each other and make eye contact.
I want to work on making the game a performative experience, that will also be enjoyable for the other students to observe. I will be setting the helmet to be very sensitive, so even a very small amount of relative relaxation on the part of either participant will result it the ‘reward’ of having their vision cleared. The simple message I want them to take away is:
‘I can see things more clearly when I take control of my brain, Meditation is a tool I can use to achieve this’
I will not be attempting to teach about the complexities of Meditation techniques, the student taking part in the MYRIAD project will be being taught this separately. This game is intended to create an unusual and engaging experience that will peek their interest and stand out from their other lessons.