The stressbuster: Supporting relaxation under pressure


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Song: "Arcade Kid" by David Renda

How to remain calm in stressful situations? Our Master student Akella Sri Harsha applied a gaming application ("Stressbuster") that is inspired by arcade games of the early 1980s. The objective of the game is to navigate a spaceship and fight a tentacled alien that slowly approaches from the top. Players use two buttons to move the ship left or right and a third to fire off the laser canon. Also, they are equipped with an energy shield that can withstand a small number of hostile laser hits from above. While the spaceship is controlled via button presses, players use head movements to navigate the energy shield horizontally across the screen (not yet applied during filming). With every laser hit from the player's ship, the alien loses one of its four tentacles, a fith hit kills it. Conversely, the player's spaceship can take three laser hits before it explodes.

The control mechanisms of the game (buttons and head tracking) are designed to be pressure- or motions-sensitive in the sense that all too heavy button presses or all too rapid head movements result in a malfunction of spaceship and energy shield. With increasing level of difficulty (higher speed of the enemy's movements and higher firing frequency), it becomes more and more difficult for the players to keep their motor activity (button presses, head movements) soft and slow. 

Aim of the project is to develop a training application that supports low states of bodily arousal even if environmental circumstances become increasingly stressful.