The Average Gamer

Deepak Chopra’s Leela Demo Impressions

THQ dominated the motion-controlled fitness games market earlier this year with the brutal UFC: Personal Trainer. In a move of unprecedented grandeur they managed to gear 50 games industry folks forward into a month of press-ups and demonic v-ups all in the name of a trip to Las Vegas and the loss of a few extra pounds. Perhaps then Deepak Chopra’s Leela is THQ saying sorry and offering a blanket to those abused by its intense programs. Leela is the very antithesis of UFC: Personal Trainer. Where UFC: PT focused on keeping the player moving, Leela practically demands you stay perfectly still. Rather odd for a Kinect game…

But what is it? I checked out the demo to bring you my thoughts.

Leela is a meditation game from the mind of Deepak Chopra, one of the worlds leading gurus on Spiritual and Alternative health and well being. Using the relatively modern theory of spinal chakra, Chopra aims to use his calming voice and ambient music to guide you through a series of playthrough “motions” each aimed at one of the seven Chakra pictured.

After a brief tutorial I was introduced to the first motion designed to centre your Root Chakra at the base of your spine. By gently moving my hips either left or right I rotated the outer of an on-screen planet. Doing so allowed me to control where seeds would land after emanating from the planet’s core. The aim is to plant the seeds, water them and then place them in sunlight so they can feed energy to the earth. Simple really? Not quite.

The water comes in scattered clouds and the sun and moon lie on opposite sides of the planet, rotating the planet carefully required calm and steady movements. Over the 3 stages of the motion I tested, things were made more complicated by the addition of mushrooms which only bloom in moonlight and meteors that created mountains (and subsequently volcanoes if you hit a mountain with a meteor).

Alongside the Playful motions there is a Guided Meditation mode that uses breathing and visualization techniques, though the demo only lets you access one 5 minute session. Again after a tutorial showing me through a few stretches to establish correct posture I was guided into a state of pure Zen.

I was certainly skeptical to begin with. I mean, come on. A video game as a guide to spiritual and mental balance? You would have to be crazy to believe it. BUT and it’s a big but, hence the capital letters, something here does click. Perhaps it’s the mixture of chillout music and beautiful graphics. Perhaps it’s the effect Chopra’s voice has when you are in a calm suggestible state even despite there being no real scientific backup that such a thing as Chakra actually exists and can be balanced in the first place. Either way I finished my demo run calm and clear-headed. Surely that counts as a success?

Keep an eye out in future for more on Leela, unless I’ve fallen asleep in my lotus flower.