One of the more interesting concepts in gaming that has gained traction in the last few years is gaming as a meditation practice. There are apps that play soothing music, yoga games and other meditation experiences too. One of the most unique is Soundself: A Technodelic. It brings the concept of breathing and voice work to try to create a meditative state.
The game works with and without VR, although I have only experienced the non-VR version. Either way – you need a microphone connected to your PC for the game to work. You’ll start off with a black screen and then you’ll be encouraged to hum or ohm. Deep breathes in and out let you audibly exhale your emotions and stress. Soundself then starts to turn your screen into a visualiser. It pulses as you breathe and pushes you down a tunnel of trippy visuals. Each play does seem to alter the experience a little but you always start and end at a tree which brings you back to being calm and centred.
Whilst the visuals work, the best thing about Soundself is that it records your hums and ohms and then echoes it around the spaces you are in. They repeat, stereo pan, echo, bounce off of walls and this creates a choir of your own voices. They are heavily processed so they resonate a bit like a singing bowl through your skin and mind. It is such a weird feeling but when you are surrounded by your own chanting drone, you do start to tune into it and feel part of a collective push towards something.
Each experience takes around 10 to 15 minutes to complete but it is something you could come back to time after time. It doesn’t run perfectly though and this is where some of the drawbacks come into play. Everything here is time based so if you aren’t able to breathe exactly in the pattern that Soundself wants, a lady starts to ask you to breathe again. The visualiser also grinds to a halt too – it only progresses on successful breathes. On my first few tries, I found the game was 50/50 on whether it would proceed or not so after that I started ohm’ing generally and found that more successful. That then meant the synergy was off and the experience was less immersive.
There was also one experience where I burped during an exhale and another where I coughed. Those burps and coughs are nautrally fed into the processing of the audio and so every now and then I’d hear my burp or cough circling around my head. It was a laugh out loud moment and I found that endearing. I can see others not agreeing though!
Despite these technical issues, there is something here. I’m not sure what it is but its a curious oddity and I’m glad it exists. I don’t think it’l bring me anything in terms of spiritual awakening but as a trippy visualiser with quirky audio tones – it has the potential to relax you like a singing bowl can.
Soundself: A Technodelic
An interesting experiment that is held back by some off putting technical issues.
Genuinely unique experience.
Some really clever audio processing.
Technical difficulties take you outside of the experience.
Could do with a variety of visualisations or some guided experiences.
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