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Valve: Emotion-Sensing Games Are The Future; Biometry Tested With L4D2

Jonathan Lester
Biometrics, Biometry, Director, Future, Left 4 Dead 2, Valve

Valve: Emotion-Sensing Games Are The Future; Biometry Tested With L4D2

Forget motion control. Biometry, the measurement of human emotion by observing physical responses such as pupil dilation and sweat, is the future of gaming hardware- and Valve's Gabe Newell has reaffirmed their commitment to developing biometric software along with games that change depending on how the player is feeling. Scary stuff.

In a recent Steamcast (that's well worth listening to on the bus home), Valve boss Gabe Newell explains that simple biometric devices can be used to build a suite of emotional data about players that can be introduced into gameplay experiences.

When you look at the kinds of experiences we try to create for people, having access to [the] internal state of the player allows us to build much more interesting and compelling experiences.

So we don't really think that that's in doubt; the question is really about when and in what forms that takes. Even very simple noisy proxies for player-state, like skin galvanic response or heart-rate, turn out to be super-useful and they're very much at the beginning of the kinds of data that you can gather.

Valve have tested this technology with Left 4 Dead 2 multiplayer matches, making each player's emotional state visible to both team-mates and opponents. Apparently this introduced a whole new tactical dimension as infected players would home in on stressed or frightened survivors- and avoid the angry (or stone-cold) combatants. Just imagine, as a hunter, stalking a player that you know to be frightened and paranoid. It's an entirely unprecedented level of immersion.

The ramifications are absolutely astounding- especially since Valve already own a piece of software that's perfectly suited for use with Biometric tech. Left 4 Dead's AI director intellligently dictates the action, zombie placement and in order to provide an experience that changes depending on stress levels. But using biometrics, the director could actually know how scared or stressed you are and react accordingly. This is a thing that we want.

For now, Valve's biometric games are still very much in the brainstorming stages- but there's no doubt that they'll deliver down the line. We'll keep you posted. [Steamcast]

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