This Controller Knows What You’re Thinking
For the past year or so we’ve been hearing about the concept of dynamically adaptive gameplay based on bioemtric data being fed to your console via the controller in your hands. If you’re bored or sad or scared shitless then the game will adapt accordingly.
It is far easier said than done. My head hurts just trying to consider how one would go about interpreting that data and then adapting the game based on all the variables.
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Engineers at Stanford University today say they have uncovered the “next step in interactive gaming” through a controller that gauges the player’s brain activity and adjusts gameplay experiences accordingly.
The prototype controller was created by Corey McCall, a doctoral candidate of electrical engineering professor Gregory Kovac. The controller takes a standard Xbox 360 controller with a modified “3D printed plastic module” replacing the back panel. This plastic module houses sensors that measure a player’s heart rate and blood flow, as well as rate of breath and how deeply a person is breathing.
Built-in accelerometers will measure the rate at which you shake the controller.
Simultaneously, proprietary software assesses the intensity of the game, in this case the simple rhythm/racing game Audiosurf Overture. Using the physiological data, the player’s overall engagement can then be assessed.
“You can see the expression of a person’s autonomic nervous system in their heart rate and skin temperature and respiration rate, and by measuring those outputs, we can understand what’s happening in the brain almost instantaneously,” McCall said in a Stanford news release.
McCall displayed the controller at CES in Las Vegas earlier this year and talked up the applications it has for developers in ensuring that players are engaged and entertained. A secondary purpose would be to provide hard data for parents who feel their children are getting too engrossed in their games.
“If a player wants maximum engagement and excitement, we can measure when they are getting bored and, for example, introduce more zombies into the level,” McCall said. “We can also control the game for children. If parents are concerned that their children are getting too wrapped up in the game, we can tone it down or remind them that it’s time for a healthy break.”
It’s great technology but requires a lot of input and effort from developers to make it work. It is perhaps more important than VR in my opinion.