Earlier this week, the World Health Organization labeled “gaming disorder” as a mental health condition, describing it as a harmful addiction that “takes precedence over other life interests and daily activities.” But indie dev EightyEight Games is providing an example of how games can actually help players take control. Its game You Must Build a Boat is now available on Neuromotion Labs’ Mightier platform, which seeks to help kids learn how to keep calm instead of getting frustrated.
You Must Build a Boat is a high-energy mashup of match-3 puzzles and dungeon-crawling with a colorful pixel art aesthetic. It’s loosely a sequel to EightyEight’s previous title, 10000000, and debuted in 2015 on PC and iOS and Android devices.
“[You Must Build a Boat] has the perfect combination of simple mechanics that kids can keep up with under pressure and depth of gameplay to keep them engaged long enough to become empowered with the skills they need to cope with daily life,” said Mightier’s cofounder and vice president of technology Trevor Sticker.
Neuromotion Labs developed and tested the Mightier program through a partnership between the Boston Children’s Hospital and Harvard University’s medical school. Along with You Must Build a Boat, its library includes games like Mokuni Games’ strategy puzzler Kitty in the Box and Flippfly’s endless runner Race the Sun.
To participate, kids wear their Mighty Band heart rate monitor while playing Mightier games, which are designed to become more difficult the higher someone’s heart rate rises. This incentivizes the player to maintain their calm. Mightier says that its participants experience 62 percent fewer outbursts of anger after 12 weeks in its program.