Leela is a game for the Xbox Kinect and Nintendo Wii that I created in collaboration with Deepak Chopra and Curious Pictures. The game takes Deepak’s philosophical work as a starting point, and explores the idea of play as meditation. The Kinect version includes seven unique games, each based on one of the chakras from yoga. It also includes a meditation mode where the Kinect tracks your breathing in the lower, middle, and upper torso in real time.
Suffice to say, Leela is an unusual game. I’m grateful to our publisher THQ for funding such a strange project. Executive Producer Lewis Kofsky and I developed the concept, and I played the role of lead game designer throughout 18 months of production on a multi-company team of about 50 developers. It was excellent working with the lead creative team at Curious Pictures and the coding team at N-Fusion.
For me the challenge of Leela was creating a series of abstract, meditative games using the unusual input device of the Kinect. I learned an incredible amount about full-body interaction design from this project. I also enjoyed working with the game design team to come up with seven unique game mechanics that had to meet very specific game design criteria. For example, each game had a very slow and meditative pace, and they needed to be structured as games that a player could win, but never actually lose. While all gameplay has the potential to be meditative, Leela tried to bring those elements of play to the foreground of the player’s experience.
The game is currently available for sale. I recommend the Kinect version, as the Wii version is slightly less fully featured. For more information, see the Leela website.