Mindfulness is becoming increasingly important in our busy, stressful lives, with innumerable apps, books and podcasts dedicated to increasing your own mindfulness.
There are adult colouring books aplenty, Apple Watch has a breathing app, and now the first mindfulness-enhanced trading card game is on its way.
Champions of the Shengha is a modern reimagining of classic card-based role-playing games like Magic: The Gathering.
Developed for iOS and Android phones and tablets, the game does away with the traditional paper cards in exchange for a digitally represented counterpart because the real star of the game is something that just wouldn’t work any other way.
Using a bluetooth-enabled sensor that clips onto the players ear, Champions of the Shengha measures in real time your Heart Rate Variability, our body’s best physical indicator of stress and anxiety. This data is then transmitted to your device, and used to either enhance or diminish the abilities of your in-game champion.
This special accessory and the data it transmits combine to make Champions of the Shengha “the world’s first emotionally responsive game”, as it uses your emotional state to affect gameplay. The more calm and steady you are, the more powerful your actions.
This is, of course, the opposite of most other games, where the gameplay affects your emotional state. The more you play, the less calm and steady you become — winning makes you happy, losing makes you sad.
The developers of the game BfB Labs are based in the UK, and sought to find a way to combat the all-too-common anxiety disorders affecting nearly 300,000 people in Britain.
Sadly, this is not exclusive to Britain, with recent studies suggesting that almost one in five Australians will have experienced some kind of mental health issue in the past twelve months.
The game promotes mindfulness and emotional control, dynamically representing your emotional state back to you as you play.
It encourages you to remain calm and in control through the use of diaphragmatic breathing techniques — the same things Bruce Banner uses to stop himself from turning into the Hulk.
Unlike the Hulk, however, in Champions of the Shengha you become more powerful by remaining calm.
BfB Labs hopes that this game will help people to manage their anxiety in real life — teaching them ways to reduce stress that can be applied even when AFK.
The project is currently gaining steam on Indiegogo, with over US$45,000 raised of their US$75,000 goal — and still two weeks to go as of right now.
I guess Yu-Gi-Oh! was right after all; you really do need to believe in the heart of the cards. It just happens that the heart is your own.