Designing Biofeedback Games for Emotion Regulation, Behavioral Change, and Maximum Engagement: The Case of Nevermind

I was recently given the opportunity to talk about the biofeedback game Nevermind, which I performed a study on in Los Angeles in Fall 2014. Here is a link to the presentation, made during Games For Health Europe 2015 (opens in new tab). You can also get the annotated slides here. (Slides didn’t optimally convert to PDF, unfortunately, but you get the idea…)

Perhaps I’ll also do a blog post about the process that went into creating this talk…

Hope you enjoy!

Below, you will find the talk’s ABSTRACT, my BIO, a THANKS section, and valuable LINKS. Comments are most appreciated.

FULL TITLE: Designing Biofeedback Games for Emotion Regulation, Behavioral Change, and Maximum Engagement: The Case of Nevermind

My Games For Health Europe 2015 talk where I walk the audience through Nevermind’s Client #251 level, and then describe the design decisions that make Nevermind so good at cultivating a personalized experience for its players. I close by talking about the potential for Nevermind as a therepeutic tool, and share some of my research on that possibility.

Biofeedback games have the potential to make gaming a deeply personal experience by tethering the gameworld to each player’s physiological state. Moreover, exciting technologies are making biofeedback games more feasible for developers to create and more accessible for the public. However, creating such games introduce a variety of design challenges. In this talk I will walk you through several segments of Nevermind, a horror-themed biofeedback game. I will highlight the design choices that make the game work as an emotionally evocative experience that feels unique to each player. To do so I will describe how its themes and game mechanics work in concert and are embedded in multiple layers of the design. My goal is to share design practices that give great promise for biofeedback video games as a means of training emotion regulation skills, stimulating behavioral change, and maximally engaging players.

Adam Lobel is a psychology researcher specializing in social and developmental psychology, and emotion. Originally from Brooklyn, New York, a study abroad semester in Amsterdam during his Bachelors led him back to the University of Amsterdam for a Research Masters in psychology. At the Radboud University, he investigates the mental health benefits of video games, and collaborates with game designers who build games for mental health. He also conducts workshops with mental health care professionals to better integrate video games in therapy. Aside from keeping up with all the gaming and mental health trends, Adam is an avid concert-goer and an outdoors enthusiast.

Tremendous thanks to the Flying Mollusk Team, and in particular the game’s Lead Designer, Erin Reynolds, and the Creative Producer, Michael Annetta. This talk is something of a love-letter to their incredible work and dedication not only to Nevermind but also to our collaboration together.

Also tremendous thanks to Marientina Gotsis for supervising Erin’s Nevermind back when it was an MA project at the University of Southern California’s Interactive Media & Game Design program. Marientina not only fought for Nevermind to get the resources it needed when it was an MA project, but she also closely supervised my research on Nevermind during my stay at USC.

Thanks to Dennis Wixon for co-supervising my research along with Marientina.

Thanks to Isabela Granic, my PhD supervisor who was also intimately involved in the project.

Thanks to Rutger Engels my other PhD supervisor, who also encouraged this collaboration (link is in Dutch).

Thanks to Menno Deen, PhD for the very kind introduction.

And finally, thanks to Joanneke Weerdmeester for filming.

-Buy Nevermind on STEAM:

-Learn more about Nevermind:

-Contact Nevermind’s team (Flying Mollusk): [email protected]

-Learn more about Marientina Gotsis and her Creative Media & Behavioral Health Center:

-Discover more games for mental health:

-Follow me on Twitter:


Adam Lobel

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply