Zukor’s Grind is a next-generation feedback game for use in neurofeedback and biofeedback designed by professional game developers under the guidance of clinical practitioners.
Zukor’s Grind benefits neurofeedback and biofeedback clinicians by giving them an unprecedented level of control of the patient feedback experience to increase both treatment efficacy and patient retention.
Zukor’s Grind‚ youth-oriented graphics and skateboarding theme are perfect for use with teens, pre-teens and young adults, or anyone that is young at heart.
Zukor’s Grind‚ is compatible with and optimized for EEG Education & Research’s EEGer.
Highly Customizable & Options Galore
Zukor’s Grind offers an unprecedented amount of features, options and customizability to fit the needs of the individual clinician’s feedback training style, as well as the unique needs of each patient. Clinicians frustrated by current feedback games’ lack of options will be amazed to see that Zukor’s Grind has 9 separate areas of options, each of which have up to 55 individual choices.
Clinicians use varied neurofeedback and biofeedback protocols, so feedback games should be flexible as well. Zukor’s Grind does just that and allows the clinician to adjust the game to fit their individual needs. This extensive level of choice and control provide myriad benefits for both clinicians and patients, including those discussed below.
Interesting, but not over stimulating
Clinicians in the field of neurofeedback have varying opinions and preferences about the level of visual and auditory complexity and stimulation needed for patient feedback options. Some clinicians and patients prefer a simple environment, keeping the stimulation level at a minimum. Others prefer some complexity to the feedback, as found in games, but do not want anything too stimulating.
Zukor’s Grind is unique in that the clinician can tailor the complexity and involvement of the game to meet the clinical needs of each patient. Zukor’s Grind effectively allows the clinician to “dial up or dial down” the stimulation level to suit their neurofeedback training beliefs and/or the needs of individual patients.
The clinician can achieve this through the abundant options built into the game, such as increasingly sophisticated levels, standard and fantasy characters, night or day mode, plus dozens of additional game variables the clinician can easily control.
Moreover, the gameplay in Zukor’s Grind is low-intensity and inherently neutral and balanced in terms stimulation. The competitive element in most modern video games is not present in Zukor’s Grind, because it is designed as a single player game with the goal of succeeding in the moment rather than racing on a track or “beating” another player.
Instead, Zukor’s Grind offers a skateboarding activity in which the goal is obtaining an “optimal” speed, not too fast and not too slow. Thus, the gameplay dynamic of Zukor’s Grind mimics the goal of most neurofeedback protocols, which is to find a balance.
The only goal of Zukor’s Grind is to meet the conditions set by the clinician in order to achieve an optimal speed, do tricks and earn points. Success in the game is driven by the protocols and thresholds defined by the clinician in their neurofeedback or biofeedback system software.
“This game is more interesting. I can tell the changes in my focus better with the speed meter rather than bar graphs.”
Clinician experience enhanced
One of the main complaints we have heard from clinicians is that the currently available feedback games quickly become an irritant to the clinicians themselves. Sometimes the culprit is certain unpleasant game-related sound, such as obnoxious game background music, which can’t be turned off without effecting all the other sounds. In other cases it’s the simplistic graphics or illogical dynamics of the basic gameplay. These and other annoyances can significantly impact clinician fatigue during back-to-back neurofeedback sessions.
Zukor’s Grind solves such issues by giving the clinician control. For instance, if a sound within the game, such as the sound the skateboard makes gliding across the concrete, is irritating to the clinician, then that specific sound can be turned off without effecting the other sounds within the game, including the auditory reward sound. Or, should one of the objects within the game environment not be to the clinician’s liking, such as the zombies or rats, then those objects can be individually turned off without effecting anything else.
Clinicians will find flexibility, variety and even enjoyment while working with patients all day using Zukor’s Grind. Furthermore, many of the visual elements inside the game, such as Stonehenge, the Easter Island Moais and others, were included to amuse the clinicians as well as their patients.
“Feedback games are very useful, but I always hated using the same feedback with back to back clients since the repetitive and unchanging nature of most feedback games can be tiring by the end of the day. Zukor’s Grind gives me the ability to change sounds and graphics, so I am able to tailor the game to meet my clients’ needs and vary the clinical environment for myself in the process.”
Increase patient focus during feedback session
Effective neurofeedback requires the patient to maintain a relaxed-focused state for extended periods of time during each neurofeedback session. Many clinicians report patients falling asleep during neurofeedback sessions. A sleeping patient is not receiving effective neurofeedback. Likewise, even among patients who are awake, many lose focus, or become agitated, which also reduces the effectiveness of the neurofeedback session. The problem is universal, but it is particularly acute in children, adolescents and teenagers, especially boys.
Zukor’s Grind’s multiple truly unique game levels and many customizable game settings, including standard and bonus characters, time of day lighting choices, unique camera angles and many more easy-to-change options, add variety to the feedback experience which thus reduces patient boredom and increases patient focus during the neurofeedback training.
“Great graphics! On Level 3, nice way to include zombies, aliens, Stonehenge and the monolith. I like the Indian on a Segway. I like the Score Screen with high scores to compete against. The game at night is best!”
– Blorp Blop
Age 12, Male, Asperger
“What I liked about the game was that the character moved around in the environment. My favorite part was the techno chicken!”
Age 11, Male, ADHD Attentive
Increased patient retention
One of the chief problems many clinicians face is keeping patients returning for their next neurofeedback session, i.e. patient retention. As one clinician bluntly put it, “What good is neurofeedback if the patient doesn’t return for their next appointment?” Zukor’s Grind helps the clinician get the patient return for their next neurofeedback session in several ways.
In addition to multiple unique levels and many customizable game settings, Zukor’s Grind’s multi-faceted, built-in incentive system helps keep patients focused during their neurofeedback session and also highly motivated to return. Zukor’s Grind’s incentive system includes patient selectable “nicknames,” period and session scores calculated in multiple ways displayed on a separate Scores screen, a “Top Scores” feature from which patients can compare their scores to other patients (via their nickname only) and a printable Scores screen which patients can take home.
Through these features and options, Zukor’s Grind will help get patients, especially the kids, to come back for their next session. This also essentially extends the practical usefulness of the feedback game for each patient. “I used to have to literally bribe the kids with toys and even money to get them to return for each session,” notes that same clinician. “Now, they want to come back to play Zukor’s Grind again.”
“Zukor’s Grind is so much better to play over and over than _____ _____ and the other neurofeedback games. I don’t get bored and it is fun to try to get a high score each period. The tricks are pretty cool also. Next time I want to move up on Top Scores. I am currently in 4th place.”
– Skateman Age 14, Male, ADHD Impulsive
Since Zukor’s Grind provides clinicians virtually complete control of the game feedback features, clinicians can now “tailor” the feedback the same way they “tailor” the frequencies, time and placement sites trained during a neurofeedback session.
These “tailored” changes to Zukor’s Grind feedback settings may be discovered over time by clinicians to be effective when training a particular type of dysregulation or client issue, thereby resulting in a type of “feedback game protocol” to follow when setting up Zukor’s Grind. Examples of these types of protocols or “tailored” changes, include using the daytime mode or multiple levels with under-activation issues and using night time mode or a single level with over-activation or instability issues. Another example is turning all objects off with over-activation or instability issues and conversely leaving all objects on with under-activation issues.
Using the vast array of options available in Zukor’s Grind thus offers clinicians the flexibility to change the game feedback enough to develop an actual “feedback protocol” for each type of dysregulation.
Features - Basic
Clinicians can create feedback game profiles for each patient which will store all feedback game options, settings and scores for that patient in a HIPPA-compliant format. This means the clinician does not have to reset the options each time for each patient. The game will remember what was used last time. What’s more, the Patient Profile includes a “Nickname” feature so each patient can select a fun nickname for themselves which is displayed on the Scores screen.
Clinicians can easily setup the number of periods per session, the length of each period and the optional Auto-Restart Next Period at a desired time interval.
The clinician can separately turn on or off the vertical or horizontal meters. Plus, there are five different styles of meters available, from the approach used in most current games to new meter styles which use more intuitive visual concepts and innovative graphical depictions.
Game Display Options
The clinician can separately turn off different types of in-game, on-screen displays, such as speed meter, time, scores, etc.
Game Sound Options
The clinician can separately turn off different types of in-game environmental sounds, such as skateboarding sounds, character sounds, etc. while not effecting the Reward Waves Sound.
Clinicians can adjust the graphics quality lower or higher to meet the capabilities of their specific computer system.
Clinicians can choose from three unique levels with increasing length and complexity. Zukor’s Grind levels are not just different colored tunnels, background photos or clip art, but rather truly unique, fully-developed and highly-imaginative paths populated by an array of diverse, interesting objects.
Game Object Options
The game can be significantly modified by the clinician by turning off individual objects, turning off groups of objects or turning off all objects. This allows the clinician to adjust the visual stimulation of the game to their feedback protocol.
The game objects can be either static (they never change), random (each training period they are different), additive (starts with none and adds more each training period) or subtractive (starts with all on and then removes some each training period).
The objects within the game vary greatly from juvenile to serious. A few objects move, but most are static to reduce distractions. Some emit sound, but most do not.
Time of Day Options
The clinician can have the game environment appear as day or night (with moonlight). Another “Time of Day” alternative is the “Moving Sun” mode where the “sun” moves 360 degrees around the “Concrete Paradise” game environment. The “Time of Day” options in Zukor’s Grind do more than add variety. They offer the clinician a powerful tool to control the “mood” of the game and thus support the desired patient treatment protocol.
Features - Advanced
Zukor’s Grind includes modality presets for the most common modalities which are selected from a simple drop down menu. Zukor’s Grind can be driven by all neurofeedback and biofeedback modalities, including 3 band “SMR” neurofeedback, Z-Score, HRV, BVP, EKG, GSR, Respiration and Temperature. The primary gameplay action of the character’s speed, skateboarding tricks and scores can be driven by one to three events.
The Modality Editor in Zukor’s Grind allows the clinician to create and/or edit additional modalities to be used with Zukor’s Grind, which can be saved and accessed later.
The Modality Editor is not a substitute for the modality settings in the clinician’s feedback system software, but rather a way for the clinician to tell the game how to react to the clinical settings.
Secondary Gameplay Actions
In addition to the three events driving the primary gameplay actions in Zukor’s Grind, the clinician can use up to 12 secondary gameplay actions.
There are 16 visual effects from which to choose for each secondary gameplay action that are applied to the skater, such as bubbles or flames coming out of the skateboard, a colored spotlight on the skater, etc. Each secondary action can be defined as either discrete or proportional.
Auditory Feedback Options
Clinicians can select from a broad array of high-quality sounds from both music instruments and synthetic sources, including MIDI.
The feedback sound’s delay intervals can be set in milliseconds. The auditory feedback sound’s volume can be adjusted separately from the game’s environmental sounds.
There is also an option for “feedback based volume” so the volume of the sound depends on how well criteria is being met.
Speed Change Rate Variable
This advanced setting allows clinicians to adjust how dramatically the character responds to changes in EEG or biometric data which can be very useful for certain treatment protocols. The clinician is able to easily change the variable in the gameplay dynamics algorithm which controls the “rate of speed change” of the character. It does not change how “fast” the character responds, but how “much.” Likewise, it also does not change the delay of the speed change because the character always responds instantly to changes in EEG or biometric data. However, the perception will be that if the Speed Change Rate is “more” that the character is responding quicker.
The clinician can choose from human and non-human characters. There is a teenage boy, named Biff, and a teenage girl, named Buffy. The non-human characters are labeled as Bonus Characters but the clinician can enable them at any time. These characters are a great way to reward a patient for reaching certain treatment goals.
The Bonus Characters can be hidden on the Characters page so they are not visible as an option until the clinician is ready to reveal them to the patient.
Camera Angle Options
Clinicians can change the patient’s viewpoint relative to the game’s character from Normal (3rd person behind the character), Reverse (facing the character in front of them) or Overhead (following the character directly above them) to add variety to the patient feedback experience.
Patients are awarded points for making reward waves, plus bonus points for doing skateboarding tricks. The Scores screen offers the patient and clinician a summary of points and progress from period to period and session to session.
The Scores screen data for the current or past sessions can be saved as a “screen grab” graphic file which can be printed and as a Excel spreadsheet.
Powerful, Versatile Research Tool
Zukor’s Grind is an exceptionally flexible feedback game research tool. Its dozens of easy-to-use options, divided into 10 separate categories, offer unparalleled control of the feedback experience. Zukor’s Grind makes feedback game protocols possible and simple.
In addition to the abundant built-in features listed below, Zukor Interactive can modify existing features for researchers or add new ones to fit your exact research needs. Just ask.
Zukor Interactive Supports Research
Zukor Interactive strongly believes in and supports research. We offer substantial discounts to AAPB & ISNR members and contribute a portion of each feedback game sale to industry sponsored research. Plus, we are a recurring monthly donor to the ISNR Research Foundation.
Key Research-Relevant Features
Game Display Options
Researchers can separately turn off different types of in-game, on-screen displays, such as the speed meter, time, scores, etc.
What display elements are most beneficial for feedback training?
Does seeing the elapsed time increase or decrease the stress response?
Does it encourage or distract the patient to see the score accumulate?
Threshold Meter Options
Researchers can separately turn on or off the reward or inhibit meters. Plus, there are five different styles of inhibit meters available, ranging from the approach used in most current games to new meter styles which use more intuitive concepts with innovative graphics.
Are threshold meters essential for providing feedback?
Which is more important, the reward meter or the inhibit meters?
What style of inhibit meter is most useful to patients?
Researchers can chose from three unique levels with increasing length and complexity. Zukor’s Grind levels are not just different colored tunnels, background photos or clip art, but rather truly unique, fully-developed and imaginative paths populated by an array of diverse, interesting objects.
How much stimulation is helpful?
Should stimulation level change over the course of treatment?
Does the “right” stimulation vary based on treatment purpose or protocol?
Level Objects Options
Enhancing the “Levels” feature, the researcher can further modify the visual stimulation of the game by turning off individual objects, turning off groups of objects or turning off all objects within the game. This is a simple way to “dial up” or “dial down” the visual stimulation of the game.
How much stimulation is the right amount?
Does the amount of stimulation depend on what is being treated?
Are certain types of objects more stimulating than others?
Reward Waves Sound Options
Researchers can select from a broad array of high-quality sounds from both musical instruments and synthetic sources, with both a low and high pitch version of each sound. Researchers can also set the reward sound’s delay interval in milliseconds.
Importantly, the reward sound volume can be adjusted independently from the feedback game’s environmental sounds. Together these options offer total control of the reward sound experience.
Are synthetic or natural sounds more rewarding?
Are low pitched sounds more effective than high pitched sounds?
Does the delay interval of the reward sound effect the treatment?
Does the reward sound volume matter, either independently or relative to the game’s sounds?
Researchers can easily setup the number of periods per session, the length of each period, and the delay length of the optional Auto-Restart Next Period.
What is the optimum period length?
What is the optimum number of periods per session?
Is a break time between periods clinically superior to no break time?
What is the optimum break time length between periods?
More Research-Relevant Features
Game Sound Options
Researchers can turn off different types of in-game environmental sounds, such as skateboarding sounds, character sounds, etc. while not effecting the Reward Waves Sound.
Do environmental sounds increase concentration or cause a distraction?
Does this vary by age or gender?
Does this depend on treatment purpose or protocol?
Time of Day Options
Researchers can have the game environment appear as day or night (with moonlight). Another “Time of Day” alternative is the Moving Sun mode where the “Sun” moves 360 degrees around the “Concrete Paradise” game environment. These “Time of Day” options do more than add variety, they offer the researcher a powerful tool to control the “mood” of the game for many purposes.
Does the type of light effect the treatment or the response to the feedback?
Should the light type match the patient’s treatment purpose or protocol?
Should the light type change over the course of treatment?
Speed Change Rate Variable
This advanced setting allows researchers to adjust how dramatically the character responds to changes in the EEG or biometric data. This can be very useful for certain treatment protocols.
Using this option, researchers can easily change the variable in the gameplay dynamics algorithm which controls the “rate of speed change” of the character. It does not change how “fast” the character responds, but it does change how “much” the character responds over time. Also, it does not change the delay of the speed change, because the character always responds instantly to changes in EEG or biometrics. However, the feedback perception will be that the higher the Speed Change Rate, the “faster” the character is responding.
How does this variable effect patient feedback and treatment progress?
Researchers can create feedback game profiles for each test subject which will store all feedback game options, settings and scores for that patient in a HIPPA-compliant format. This means the Researcher does not have to reset the game options each time they see a specific test subject.
Points are awarded for meeting the reward state, plus bonus points are added for doing skateboarding tricks. The Scores screen displays detials of each point type plus a total score for each period and each session.
The Scores screen data can be saved as a “screen grab” graphic file (which can be printed) and as a Excel spreadsheet.
There are human and non-human characters available for gameplay. There is a teenage boy named Biff, and a teenage girl named Buffy. The non-human characters are labeled as Bonus Characters but can be selected at any time. They are a great way to “reward” a patient for reaching certain treatment goals. The Bonus Characters can be hidden on the Characters page so they are not available as a playable character until the clinician is ready to reveal them to the patient.
Camera Angle Options
The patien’s point of view can be changed between Normal (3rd person behind the character) and Reverse (facing the character in front of them) or Overhead (third person above the character) in order to add variety to the feedback experience.
The game’s graphics quality can be adjusted lower or higher to meet the capabilities of their specific computer system.
Clinical Testing Summary
In addition to months of technical testing by our programmers and technical testing team, Zukor’s Grind also underwent extensive clinical testing supervised by Dr. Allen Novian, our chief clinical advisor. During the five months prior to Zukor’s Grind’s release, he and four other clinicians tested Zukor’s Grind by using it for their patients’ visual and auditory feedback in conjunction with the neurofeedback and biofeedback systems used in their offices.
Although the majority of patients with whom the game was tested were teenagers, both male and female, with diagnoses of ADD/ADHD, the ages of patients ranged from 7 to 55. The results of testing showed that both children and adults responded well to Zukor’s Grind as a form of feedback.
Presenting Issues of the Testing Group
In addition to the wide age range with which Zukor’s Grind was tested, a variety of presenting issues were present in the testing group as well, including the following.
Adult ADHD Inattentive
Sensory Processing Disorder
Zukor’s Grind is so much better to play over and over than —– —- and the other neurofeedback games. I don’t get bored and it is fun to try to get a high score each period. The tricks are pretty cool also. Next time I want to move up on Top Session Scores. I am currently in 4th place.
Computer systems which don’t meet these requirements may be able to run the game, but might encounter issues ranging from minor to extreme. Please note that these computer systems requirements are in alignment with those of the neurofeedback/biofeedback system companies.
MINIMUM COMPUTER SYSTEM REQUIREMENTS
Note: Most computers sold within the last two years will meet the first two requirements.
1. OPERATING SYSTEM
Windows 7, 8 or 10 on a regular PC or on a Mac (Bootcamp).
NOTE: Microsoft no longer supports many versions of Windows XP and Windows Vista.
IMPORTANT: Please make sure you have installed ALL Windows 7 or Windows 8 updates PRIOR TO INSTALLING and running Zukor’s Grind. Failure to do this may lead to improper operation of the game.
2. COMPUTER GRAPHICS REQUIREMENTS
Dedicated graphics card with at least 512 MB dedicated video memory.
NOTE: Systems which do not meet these graphic requirements will still likely play the game, but may require graphic adjustments within the game to reduce graphics quality so the game will play smoothly.
Two monitors (dedicated dual monitor setup). Game monitor should be 21+ inches, “widescreen” and set at a minimum resolution of 1280×720.
NOTE 1: If using a laptop computer, the laptop screen counts as one monitor.
NOTE 2: A second monitor which meets the above requirements is a very inexpensive investment costing about $125-$175 on Amazon or at Best Buy.
NOTE 3: Video projectors, Plasma TVs and LCD TVs usually work as well, but could require the Windows graphic settings to be adjusted.
SUGGESTION: For an absolutely amazing feedback experience for your patients, invest in a 42-inch Plasma or LCD TV for your second monitor.