Chopra hopes to connect minds, bodies with ‘Leela’

At the end of a long day, many gamers zone out by competing in online death matches, or they check out by escaping to virtual realms. Spiritual leader Deepak Chopra is hoping gamers will instead choose to chill out with “Leela,” his ambitious new effort to combine gaming and meditation.

“I personally believe that you can accelerate neural development and biological evolution through video games,” said Chopra. “Unfortunately, that’s not what we’re doing right now. What we’re doing is creating addictions to violence, adrenaline and mindlessness, rather than mindfulness. That was my personal motivation to get involved in this medium.”

“Deepak Chopra’s Leela” from THQ Inc. will use the Xbox 360 console’s controller-free, camera-based Kinect system to detect users’ bodies, then guide them through meditation exercises. (An edition for Nintendo’s Wii requires players to hold a controller.) “Leela,” which translates to “play” in Sanskrit, is less of a game and more of an experience, though there are a few gameplay elements.

Seven different interactive exercises based on the seven “chakras,” the points along the body that Chopra says serve as energy centers, task players with moving their bodies to control graphics onscreen set to a soothing soundtrack. The mini-games increase in difficulty, but “Leela” places no importance on a final score or even finishing the exercises.

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