Mightier wants to play with kids’ emotions. Quite literally.
Boston-based startup Mightier wants to help kids learn how to control their emotions through playing specially designed video games that respond to their emotions.
While Mightier does not develop its own games, it works with preexisting games that are popular among kids in the age group of 6-14 like Brick Breaker, Crossy Ninja, and Flying Ace. Mightier’s software makes these games bioresponsive — adapts based on biological responses like increased heart rate, palpitation etc.
For a starter pack of $249, families get a package that includes a wireless heart monitor that tracks data ( via Bluetooth) on kids’ emotional reactions to challenges during the game, three months of unlimited access to all of the games in the app and six sessions for parents with a coach. Parent coaches then develop a personalized program for kids based on the test results.
The games get tougher as kids make progress through the levels to test their stress levels and then teach them calming techniques like breathing exercises.
Mightier co-founder and CSO Dr. Jason Kahn said that this is done in order to simulate everyday stressful situations such as taking a math test.
“We knew games could mirror this,” Kahn said. “Games could be a mirror of life.”
The 8-person company was founded by Kahn in 2016 while he was doing his research in mental health and emotional dysregulation at Boston Children’s Hospital, while trying to find a better solution to a very common problem among children with emotional regulation problems.
“There are problems with treatment, when you think about medications, especially when you think about medication for really common symptoms that kids have,” Kahn said. “Kids who are disruptive, kids who have low frustration tolerance, they have frequent outbursts, they get angry. They’re aren’t good treatments.”
Kahn noted that medication is usually not the best solution for a lot of these kids. However, Kahn knew children wouldn’t adopt Mightier as a treatment option just because it was video games. He knew it needed to be fun and interactive. Mightier works with game designers to incorporate their bioresponse program into the games and runs inclusive focus groups with kids for different age groups and backgrounds.
There is no one type of game that everybody likes,” said co-founder Trevor Stricker.”This is entertainment. There is no ultimate piece of software that has the features that everybody wants. That’s not how games work.”
Stricker said that they are currently trying to incorporate more games that cover different genres to ensure that there is a game every different kid would naturally want to play.
Mightier has over 1,000 sign ups and the company closed a $1.2 million seed round in November last year led by local venture capitalist firms: Founder Collective and Project 11. Boston Children’s Hospital also holds some equity in the company.