A game investigating the rhetoric of fear culture

Blowhard is a game, created by Ryan Schoelerman and Sky Frostenson, in which two players compete by breathing into a CPR mask, where a breath sensor translates cumulative respiration into the player’s current level of anxiety, shown on a screen in the same color-coded system used by the Department of Homeland Security‘s Threat Advisory System.

Players must increase their anxiety gradually, moving up one stage at a time. Upon completion of a level the display provides feedback via audio-video USA fear culture propaganda from the 1950s to the present. The first player to reach the top, wins.


The respiration game controller masks are designed using a CPR resuscitation mask, TGS-822 organic vapor sensor and connect via ethernet cables to a game console. The console consists of programmed PIC micro-controllers, on-board LED display graphs, an audio sample processor, and speaker amplifier system. All hardware is housed inside a Playstation2 case.

The software screen display of BLOWHARD is designed using Max/MSP/Jitter.

The game is part of the Hybrid Vigor exhibition, at the Beall Center for Art + Technology on April 6 – 16, 2005.

Via Interactive Media Division.
Related: Homeland Insecurity Advisory System project.