The idea for the video game entitled, “Chill-Out,” came from computer science professor Ricardo Gutierrez-Osuna for the stress management project, “Promoting Stress Self-Regulation with Physiological Training Games.” Gutierrez-Osuna came up with the idea some three years ago after observing the adverse effects of stress on individuals. According to him, Americans spend over $150-300 billion a year addressing stress-induced ailments.
Gutierrez-Osuna continues to work closely with a team of students for the successful development of the video game. One of the students is a senior majoring in computer science, Brian Bell, who is also enrolled in Gutierrez-Osuna’s capstone design class. This class groups its students to be led by one of his graduate students while working on a certain project.
According to Bell, his group has just completed the design phase of the video game, which tackled setting a realistic timeline for tasks and placing orders for needed supplies. Bell clarified that even though the game’s objective is to reduce stress-induced health risks, it is designed more for people working in programming.
One of Gutierrez-Osuna’s computer science graduates is Avinash Parnandi, who contributed to the idea of “Chill-Out” and helped conduct studies on the concept’s effectiveness.
Gutierrez-Osuna explained that “Chill-Out” will be available on smartphones and tablets, and will have the unique ability to record the player’s respiration rate and discern his current level of stress. This will, in effect, determine the game’s difficulty.
“You have to shoot balls and knock them off the ceiling before the ceiling falls, so it’s very casual. … We measure respiration. If they breath normally, the game gets easier, if not, it gets harder, so you have to keep your breathing slow to keep the game easy, training you to breathe in high-stress situations.” – Ricardo Gutierrez-Osuna
Gutierrez-Osuna believes stress management in the form of a video game would be more effective than other techniques such as meditation because of its nature: a video game is fun, does not entail self-discipline, and diverts the player’s stress.