Mind Training Blog

How to create innovative computer games controlled by the user’s brainwaves?

A new media article about MindGames! You’ll hardly find it, because is distributed only in Iceland, so enjoy it here!

By Eygló Svala Arnardóttir, “Iceland. Issues and images”, Vol. 7 1-2011

“In January 2009, I saw an internet item which discussed the debut of the Mattel MindFlex game at the New York Toy Fair. The player’s level of concentration was transmitted to activate a fan, which blew a plastic ball into the air,” says Deepa Iyengar, managing director of Icelandic start-up company MindGames.

“Immediately, I knew that it would be easier to make more complex mind-controlled interactions in the virtual world. And, if the ‘mind power’ used was concentration or relaxation, then while they were having fun, people would also be improving their control over their concentration or relaxation; that is, learning valuable skills for life.”

Iyengar, originally from the United States, moved to Iceland in 2006 with her Icelandic husband. Together with four other collaborators, they founded MindGames in 2009. The company belongs to a new breed of companies within the Icelandic gaming industry, which look at the economic situation as an opportunity to grow and establish themselves in foreign markets. 

In December 2010, MindGames became the first company in the world to sell an iPhone application, called Tug of Mind, which is a fitness experience. To play it, users need a brainwave tool that transmits information to the game based on real-time measurements of their brainwaves. The technology is a simplified version of electroencephalography (EEG), which has been used since the early 1930s in hospitals to diagnose patients’ brain activity.

“Brain cells communicate using electrical pulses. Pulses from one brain cell are small, but when you add up the activity from huge numbers of brain cells, that can be detected by metal electrodes if you place them on the scalp,” Iyengar explained.

In the same month, the company received a grant from the Ministry of Industry’s Technology Development Fund to develop additional iOS games. In addition, MindGames’ 2009 summer student interns were one of the top six groups honored at the President of Iceland’s 2010 Innovation Prize awards reception, for their role in developing the first multiplayer brainwave-controlled computer game on Facebook, Gods and Mortals, which will soon be up for user testing.

In March 2011, MindGames released W.I.L.D. on iPhone and iPad. “In W.I.L.D., the player falls asleep and finds herself in a lucid dream, which she can and must control with her mental powers in order to wake up,” Iyengar explained. “We update this game every month for free, with a new dream.” In addition, MindGames will release two new mind-controlled iPhone games this fall and this summer they will make a game for PC which will help children improve their ability to pay attention.