The life of humans in today’s society is becoming more and more stressful. People have to face many problems and overcome a lot of hurdles to live in the current society. But there is one Dutch VR startup that aims to change people’s mindset.

What is that Dutch VR startup?

Stressjam is a technological innovation in the form of a virtual reality serious game that works with real-time biofeedback and can be formulated as a simple algorithm: groundbreaking scientific and psychological knowledge + biofeedback + virtual reality headset + supercool serious game.

Psychologist Bernard Maarsingh is Stressjam’s creator and he tells about this game’s target and revelance: “For years, we have been assuming that stress makes us sick and increases the risk of disease, but research from Stanford and Harvard University shows that stress can have positive effects. People who experience a lot of stress but hold a “stress-in-enhancing” mindset, and consider stress to be helpful, belong to the healthiest group of people. If you train yourself to build up a positive mindset towards stress, you will get more focus and energy, a better connection with your environment and develop more problem solving skills.”

How can a  VR game make people embrace stress?

      Stressjam teaches the player how to develop a new mindset in which stress can also be healthy. The user undergoes a lifelike, interactive experience personalized by using sensors on your body. The participant trains his/her own stress system and learns to use it to develop.

The set-up consists of a VR headset, headphones, two hand controllers, and a heart rate and breath monitor that fits tightly around your ribs and the game itself is set on a desert island. Each task requires players  to be completely aware of their stress level, visible on screen, and use it as a tool.

One of the most stressful tasks a player faces is getting attacked by a virtual swarm of bees. The bees are triggered by the participant’s stress, so to get rid of them, he has to try and calm down. Taking deep breaths or thinking happy thoughts usually do the trick.

 Who collaborated on this project?

     Stressjam has been developed in collaboration with various educational institutions. Students from Friesland College, NHL Stenden University  and Hanze University were involved in, among other, the technical development and the design. Students of Psychology Post-Master PPO (Postmaster Psychology Education) thought about translating psychological principles into digital applications.