A biofeedback game is a game which is controlled through input from biofeedback devices. The patient controls the game with his or her body, with the game responding to things like changes in heart rate, blood pressure, sweating, and skin temperature. Such games are used in therapeutic settings for a wide variety of purposes, and they can also be recreational in nature.
In a biofeedback game, people navigate the game by changing something about their body. This change may be conscious or unconscious. For example, changes in breath rate can be manipulated by a player, while pulse is dependent on physiological shifts in the body which the player cannot control. Such games are often designed along a reward model, with the game rewarding the player when she or he achieves a desired change.
For example, a game which is designed to help people relax and promote stress management would reward players for reductions in blood pressure, sweating, and heart rate. Someone might be able to pass through doors, build something, or engage in other activities by lowering stress, while the game would present obstacles when the player was obviously in a stressed state. Biofeedback games can be used in psychotherapy, to help patients work through stressful situations, and they may also be used in medical imaging studies of the brain, with the patient controlling the game while the brain is scanned to gather information about brain activity.
To play a biofeedback game, a player needs to be connected to devices which will provide input for the game. Players may wear gloves, heart rate monitors, and so forth. The game may be presented on a screen or inside a visor, with some biofeedback games being geared towards a virtual reality mode of play, in which the player feels immersed inside the game. Many such games take on a storytelling or narrative form, with the player working through a series of scenes or puzzles with the game.
Biofeedback game designers work in many areas of the world. Some work with members of the medical or psychotherapeutic profession to develop games which can be used in therapy, while others work independently, developing games designed primarily for fun. Some games take advantage of very advanced technology, which is improving all the time, allowing games to become steady more complex and involved. People who are interested in playing a biofeedback game may be able to access one through a gaming center in their community, or through a therapy provider who uses such games in treatment.