Everyone wants to know what Valve is up to. Those guys out in Washington are the future of video games, you see, so anything and everything that they do—even if none of it leads to anything in particular—is worthy of note, because the company is so good at coming up with innovative and exciting ideas. And a lot’s been made of the research the company is putting into studying and understanding how biometric feedback can be used in games.
A post on Venture Beat offers up some details about the latest work Valve has put into biometric data: specifically, the way games can use a gamer’s sweat. The post explained that, during a session of Left4Dead, players’ sweat output was measured and data was extrapolated from that and fed back into the game. The game then “tried to modify the play experience so it was more fun.” How would it get more fun, you ask? Here’s how:
“Valve also ran an experiment in which the player had four minutes to shoot 100 enmies. If they were calm, the game would progress normally. If they got aroused or nervous, the game would move more quickly, and they would have less time to shoot the enemies.”
Wow! That does not sound fun to me. But then, I’m kind of a wimp, so, you know, I’m sure the Sweat-o-Matic 5000 technology they’re working on over there would be wasted on me.
Valve’s resident experimental psychologist Mike Ambinder is in charge of running these kinds of experiments. Here’s what he had to say on the efforts:
“There is potential on both sides of the equation, both for using physicological signals to quantify an emotional state while people are playing the game.
The more interesting side of the equation is what you can do when you incorporate physiological signals into the gameplay itself.”
Yikes. I kind of feel okay about the games I play not knowing how frustrated or frazzled I am. If I start worrying about how my body is betraying me to the soulless computer, that’s going to add a whole new layer of stress.
Your thoughts? Do you want your games to measure your sweat and react accordingly? No word yet on whether or not Valve will be incorporating the level of body odor you produce while playing.