Video Games Can Read Your Emotions

in Article, Pop Culture
April 29th, 2014

Using technology similar to that found in a lie detector, Corey McCall, a Stanford University doctoral candidate, is creating a video game controller that registers signals about a players respiration, pulse, and perspiration. In Gregory Kovacs’s lab, in association with Texas Instruments, a prototype was constructed.

As a player gets more excited, all of signals the device registers change. Consider physical activity or watching an interesting movie, surprising these have similar autonomous nervous responses. As your interest or involvement increases your respiration rate decreases, pulse increases, and perspiration increases.

This data is then used to synthesize whether the player is bored or perhaps over involved in the game. This can be then used to modify the gaming experience to either add more intensity and difficult if the player is bored or tone down the gameplay a child player is too excited.

“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” (Kurzweil).

By reading the physiological signals, McCall takes advantage of monitoring the autonomous nervous system, instead of wiring right into someone’s brain, to read  one’s emotions.  Reading the autonomous nervous system response is much less invasive, as the actual prototype plays and feels extremely similar to a normal Xbox controller. A more invasive technique would require the player to wear an EEG cap, which could become distracting.

Benjamin Lawson

Sources:

Video Games Can Sense Emotions – Kurzweil

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