About DEEP


About DEEP

DEEP is a meditative VR game
controlled by breathing

Deep allows players to navigate through a serene and poetic underwater world. Movement is controlled by slow, deep breathing which soothes relieves anxiety in the player. It uses a self-explorative, visually stunning underwater seascape and biofeedback mechanics.

Deep is aimed at teaching people valuable emotion regulation techniques in a safe and supporting environment.
The project is made in close collaboration with a team of scientists at the Radboud University & the Games for Emotional and Mental Health Lab
Over the last 4 years our scientific colleagues have demonstrated the efficacy of DEEP as an intervention for people with anxiety

Watch the teaser

Watch the TED x talk

The Controller
The custom controller measures diaphragm expansion in order to sense deep breathing. This information is fed back to the player in a variety of visual cues, intimately linking their consciousness and breath. The environment's layout gently encourages the player to slow their breath, to sink deeper and relax. It can be played for therapeutic or aesthetic reasons, and does not require the use on arms, legs or hands.





DEEP is supported by


Click on a logo to go to the article



(Deep) was calming, and I began to experience the sense of peace I brushed against in my other experiments in meditation ... for me, for a few minutes, it worked.”
— Ben Kuchera, Polygon
For the player it’s simple, yet it’s hard to explain how much better it made me feel … just five minutes strapped to Harris’s breathing device felt remarkable.”

— Joe Donnelly, VICE
Deep … gives users an accessible, immersive avenue toward claiming agency over their own bodies.”

— Michael Andor Brodeur, Boston Globe
I want to live here”

— Tetsuya Mizuguchi, Rez & Child of Eden






the makers

the makers


When the Oculus Rift first came out, Owen began making a personal meditation aid to help him in his practice. Like many people, Owen has suffered from anxiety and bouts of depression. For the last 15 years, he has used meditation and breathing techniques to help manage these problems. He sought to create a digital zen garden, a place he could escape to at the end of a tough day to unwind and relax.

He was surprised to find out that there was a lot of interest in the concept and began developing it for a wider audience. In the summer of 2014, after showing the work at Playful Arts Festival in Den Bosch, he was introduced to Niki. Niki’s art and ideas complemented and expanded the vision of the game. Owen and Niki are now collaborating together to build a new version of DEEP.


Owen Harris

Project Director, Game Designer, Gameplay Programer

Owen Harris is a Game Designer, VR designer and lover of all things playful. When not working on DEEP, he designs games and VR experiences for the University of Cambridge, Cancer Research UK, Gambrinous and others. He has taught Game Design in DIT and has spoken all over Ireland and Europe about games, virtual reality and on the intersection of health and playful experiences.
You can follow him here and read more about his work here.


Niki Smit

Art Director, Game Designer and Implementation

Niki Smit is co-founder of Monobanda PLAY, a Utrecht based game company that develops playful interactive experiences. He is a game designer and artist. Niki aims to explore and expand the boundaries of games and interaction and focuses heavily on researching and developing new forms of play and meaningful interactivity.




Sarah is a producer, researcher and curator with a passion for storytelling, technology and health. She first came across Deep when she was a VR & Mental Health Curator at The Big Anxiety Festival. She showed the experience on the opening night of the festival in 2017, and has been in love with Deep ever since. Alongside her work with Deep, she is the founder of Hatsumi and works to support the wider immersive technology, arts and health community.

Dr Bryan Duggan - AI Programmer.png

Bryan Duggan

AI Programmer

Bryan is a lecturer in the DIT School of Computing who loves teaching things like creative coding, virtual reality and game AI. A board member of the International GameCraft Foundation, Bryan regularly organises and participates in games jams. You can find more about Bryan’s projects on his blog or youtube channel. 

Flaminia Grimaldi - Additional Visual Design.png


Additional Visual Design

Flaminia is a game artist and developer living in Terni, Italy. She was an environment artist on Wheels of Aurelia and I'm now working on an exciting yet-to-be-announced project!

Andrew Mooney - Sound Designer.png

Andy Mooney

Sound Designer & Composer

Andy Mooney is a musician, videographer and grand master at Paradoxical Recordings. He has studied jazz, digital music, and is an avid experimenter with the mediums of music and video. He has contributed music to various computer games, TV shows and a host of experimental films. 

The scientists

Joanekke Weerdmeester - Primary Researcher.jpg

Joanneke Weerdmeester, Msc

PhD Student, Primary Researcher

Joanneke is PhD-candidate at the Developmental Psychopathology program of the Behavioural Science Institute in Nijmegen, the Netherlands. Her doctoral research is focused on developing and testing biofeedback videogames that can help youth cope with stress and anxiety. Prior to her appointment as PhD-candidate, she obtained both a master's degree in clinical psychology as well as a research master degree in behavioural science at the Radboud University.

Dr. ir. Marieke van Rooij.png

Dr. ir. Marieke van Rooij 

Daily Supervision Research Team

Marieke van Rooij is Assistant Professor at the Developmental Psychopathology department and member of the Games for Emotional and Mental Health Lab. She has a cross-disciplinary background and received her M.Sc. in Applied Mathematics from Delft University of Technology (TUD), her Ph.D. in Experimental Psychology from the University of Cincinnati, and held a previous postdoc position in Affective Computing also at TUD.

Prof Isabela Granic

Research Supervision and Advisor

Isabela Granic received her PhD at the University of Toronto in developmental psychology. She is currently Professor and Chair of the Developmental Psychopathology department at Radboud University, in the Netherlands. She is also co-founder of The PlayNice Institute, an organization that builds evidence-based games that promote emotional health and well-being for children and youth. Her research focuses on the positive effects of playing video games, including the cognitive, emotional and social benefits.


We are a research and development lab that aims to establish the scientific foundations for effective mental health games. We empirically validate our games with rigorous research designs, we share our data publicly, and publish our results regardless of outcomes. We are also committed to developing a theoretical framework and new methodologies that stipulate how to use games to experimentally test theories of psychological change.



Charles Putney

Charles Putney is an engineer whose first experience with computing was with a Bendix G15 drum computer at Carnegie Mellon. More followed with CDC G20, IBM 360, Univac 1108, Apple II, and 386XXX. Charles worked on microprocessor programming and design for 6502, Z80, and 8051. His career in engineering started with Texas Instruments in the 1970s and continued with Becton Dickinson, Dataproducts, Hitachi Printing Solutions and Ricoh Printing Systems Europe. Now technically retired, Charles spends his time programming satellites and whatever else comes his way. Catch him on Code Project.

Cheryl Harding

Cheryl is a software engineer by trade, but a maker, crafter, and tinkerer, by compulsion. Currently consumed by wearable tech, etextiles, and human-computer interfaces, she can often be found working on a multitude of projects in her local hackerspace, TOG. She sometimes blogs, but is probably most easily tracked down on Twitter.

Grainne Putney

Grainne has plenty of experience with crafting game props, being chief seamstress for the game Touched that was shown at Playful Arts Festival in 2014. She really enjoyed sewing the belts for the latest version of DEEP!