Mind-Controlled Games

I’ve always been rather interested in how new technology can improve gaming, so when I spotted this article on Eurogamer’s Digital Foundry blog about the use of biometic data in games to alter gameplay according to how the player feels, I was quite interested..

Valve have done some studies using skin galvanic response (electrical conductance of skin changes with moisture level) and heart-rate, measuring them on players using a special build of Left 4 Dead 2.  On feeding back some of this data to other players, they noticed that people reacted to players based on those projected feelings.. with people being more aggressive towards a highly-aroused opponent, but very defensive of similarly aroused players on their own team.

This makes sense enough.. if an opponent is crowing about every kill they make then I tend to want to take them down more, while I would tend to be defensive of a teammate having a bad time.. however, if you use voice then you can already tell which players are worked up.

Another problem would be in having the system determine whether the player is reacting to the game or external stimuli, as well as establishing readings per person, as everyone reacts differently.  I rarely get to launch a game while in a calm, relaxed mood.. sometimes far from it.. so the system would probably struggle to work out what my baseline readings should be.

I also imagine some people would try to block the capture of data.. disconnecting the sensors, or wiring up a sibling.. so that the opposing team don’t target them as much.. and there might be more trolling as they would be able to see the readings for themselves, and know they were having the desired effect.

A system using biometric data probably won’t be really effective unless you have genuinely co-operative people.. for me it would maybe be friends-only.. though I can see it being better for single-player games where more enemies could be sent towards calm players, basically altering the difficulty based on how the player feels.

Interesting stuff, anyways, and even if it doesn’t end up with a practical outcome for gaming, I guess it will be useful somewhere.

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