A few decades ago, PC gamers interacted with video games entirely through text. Text-based games were all the rage. A few years later, sounds and visual feedback were added to games. In the future, gaming companies like Valve might add a few more senses to the mix thanks to biofeedback technology.
What is biofeedback?
Biofeedback incorporates a player’s emotional experience into the game. So if you’re scared while playing a game and your pupils dilate, then the game could change to reflex that. Or, your mouse could detect how sweaty your palms are, which could alter the gaming experience in another way.
Apparently, Valve has spent quite a bit of time investing in biofeedback technology. In fact, they’ve even gone so far as to hire a resident experimental psychologist named Mike Ambider, who recently spoke at the NeuroGaming Conference and Expo.
Cool gaming things to do with biofeedback
So far, I’ll admit this technology sounds pretty weird. How could it actually improve the gaming experience? Ambider has a few examples where biofeedback could significantly change the way the world plays video games:
-Tell players to shoot 100 enemies in four minutes. When the player starts to exhibit signs of panic, the clock ticks down faster.
-You could play Portal 2 with your eyes, which may allow players to react more quickly than they would with a mouse.
The potential for technology like this is limitless – there would be so many cool things to do with it if a company actually managed to put together a working product. The panic-sensing technology would be good for military simulators, where gamers would be forced to stay cool under pressure.
Here’s another idea I just came up with: let’s say in Team Fortress 2 your team is battling another team for control of the last point. There’s a ‘panic meter’ on the screen that shows opponents how freaked out your team is based on biofeedback from the peripherals.
It would also be interesting to see biofeedback peripherals in competitive gaming environments, like Starcraft 2 tournies or a first person shooter event. How much stress do those gamers go through during a capture the flag match? Which teams stay most-composed under pressure?
Anyways, I’m glad to see Valve is attempting innovation in a PC gaming world that may be near-death if it wasn’t for Valve, Steam, and its other technologies.