There are two upcoming virtual reality (VR) videogames that utilise biometric data as a means of control and influence. One is Nevermind, the heart rate-sensing horror title from Flying Mollusk. At the other end of the scale is Deep from indie developer Owen Harris. Instead of teaching players to control their fear, Deep requires them use diaphragmatic breathing techniques in order to progress through a beautiful underwater world. But how will players that haven’t had training in this style of breathing cope? That’s something the developer is currently addressing.
Harris is currently working on a training mode that will teach players how to breathe when playing Deep. Along with the Oculus Rift head-mounted display (HMD), players will have a sensor strapped around them that is able to record data on their diaphragm, allowing the videogame to accurately measure how well they are performing. Harris told VRFocus a little bit about this mode and the challenges of making this a focus of a videogame in an interview that will be published in full later this week.
“There is a big design problem with the game at the moment in that if you already know how to do the style of breathing that we’re going for here, you can kind of get into it quite quickly and start enjoying it almost straight away,” Harris stated. “But if you haven’t done diaphragmatic breathing or yoga before or anything like that, it can be a little bit stressful. So the next thing we’re building is a training mode, and that’s going to actually teach you, in a kinda step by step way, how to do this type of breathing so you’ll be ready for the larger experience.”
With this mode in place, Deep could become one of the key examples of how VR can go further than just immersing players in their videogame experiences, also improving their well-being. VRFocus will continue to follow Deep closely. Check back later in the week for the full interview with Harris.