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New Video Game Developed In Boston Can Help Kids Manage Emotions

BOSTON (CBS) - Whether he's fighting monsters, building boats, or creating brand new subway systems, this is just another fun video game to 9-year-old John Powers. But to his mom, Katherine, it's a lot more, "we do deal with some explosive episodes" concerning John's behavior. The video game is also a tool, teaching John how to regulate those sometime strong emotions in real time. It's called "Mightier."

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"When its pulsing it means you're in the red," explained John while totally engrossed in the game. The heart pulsing on the screen that John described, tracks a player's actual heart rate through a wristband connected through Bluetooth.

mightier game
This heart icon tracks a player's actual heart rate. (WBZ-TV)

"If your heart rate is too high then the game kind of gets harder. So, you need to calm your heart rate down. And the game teaches them some breathing strategies to calm their heart rate down," said Katherine.

While John took some deep breaths, his heart rate slowed, and the scale on the video game changed from red to a cool blue.

"Having that visualization on what your body is doing, it gives you this awesome power that you just don't have otherwise," said Dr. Jason Kahn, the founder of Mightier. Dr. Kahn developed and tested the platform while working at Boston Children's Hospital.

mightier game
Mightier (WBZ-TV)

"A lot of the kids come to us with some sort of diagnosis, but a lot don't. And they are just trying to work out some of the challenges they might be facing at home or at school," Dr. Kahn explained. Studies conducted by the company at Boston Children's Hospital found outbursts were reduced by 62-percent.

The hope is that once kids can see the techniques make a difference in the middle of a game, they can use those same skills at any point during the day.

"That's the one major goal - to provide tools and strategies he can use any time," said Katherine. "It's an awareness he didn't have previously."

The basic Mightier program costs $129 and there's a monthly subscription after the first three months. Right now, there are more than a dozen games on the platform and the team is adding new ones as quickly as they can.

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