Of the many hours that have I’ve spent playing PopCap Games match’em-up Bejeweled 3, most were done so in the game’s innovative Zen mode; where players are offered the option to enable stress reducing mechanics such as breathing meditation, play mantras that exist either visibly or subliminally during gameplay, and even binaural beats which help to reduce player anxiety.
These options can be switched on or off to suit the player’s preferences. The benefits of video games on mental health are well discussed in commercial media, and meditation and mindfulness have been proven to be effective ways to reduce stress and anxiety. Combining the two together, in a game where it’s easy to lose yourself in the repetitive task of matching colours, creates a great way to wash away the worries of the world around you.
Ahead of its time, it’s interesting that Bejeweled 3, a game which released in 2010 contains a mode which allows for such modern techniques. Zen games have proliferated within the gaming scene over the last few years, especially on mobile platforms; but these are games designed with stress relief features built into them from the ground up, careful to avoid the typically stressful gaming inclusions such as high pitched tones and fast-paced gameplay. Bejeweled 3’s Zen mode goes above and beyond to enable players to craft their ultimate anti-anxiety experience.