Brainball: Winning by Relaxing.
Brainball is a game where you compete in relaxation. The players' brainwaves control a ball on a table, and the more relaxed scores a goal over the opponent.
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Brainball is a game that goes against the conventional competitive concept, and also reinvents the relationship between man and machine. Instead of activity and adrenalin, it is passivity and calmness that mark the truly successful Brainball player. Brainball is unique amongst machines since it is not controlled by the player's rational and strategic thoughts and decisions. On the contrary, the participants are dependent on the body's own intuitive reactions to the game machine.
At first glance, Brainball seems similar to a traditional two player game - two people challenge one and other and take their respective positions at each end of a table that is laid out with two goals and a little ball. The rest of the game's equipment is more special. Both players wear a strap around their forehead that contains electrodes and is wired up to a biosensor system. This system, that is used to measure the body's biological signals, is tightly fastened to the frontal lobes and registers the electrical activity in the brain - so called EEG (electroencephalogram). The players brain activity is graphed in a diagram on a computer screen so that the public can easily follow the players mental processes during the match.
The brain waves that move the ball forward, increasing the chance of victory, are called alpha and theta waves. They are generated in the brain when one is calm and relaxed. A considerably stressed player will therefore lose. The matches outcome is rarely obvious since the transition between calm and stress, and vice versa, can occur quickly. Often, the ball will roll backwards and forwards for a few minutes before the game is concluded. In this way, Brainball is an exciting and social game where the audience can follow the match by watching the ball on the table, the graph on the screens and the more or less relaxed expressions of the players.
text: Annika Hansson in collaboration with the project group. Translated to English by Lukas Gimpel.