Tagged: mark ambinder

Awesome: Valve experimenting with sweat and eye tracking

Motion control or virtual reality—where does the future lie? As it stands, Valve is experimenting with other technologies, including biometrics. Speaking at the NeuroGaming Conference and Expo last week, experimental psychology Mark Ambinder revealed that the studio is testing sweat and eye tracking in their games.

Sweat tracking is being used to figure out how excited players are in a game. Ambinder noted that they’re plugging the data in to Left 4 Dead 2 to provide more information to its AI director. He also added that the studio ran an experiment where players had to shoot 100 enemies. If they grew nervous or excited, the game’s speed would be adjusted, making it harder or easier.

As for eye-tracking, Ambinder noted that they’ve made a version of Portal 2 that could make use of eyes for movement since we can move them much faster than we move hands. Apparently, it worked well, though they still have to work on separating aiming from movement.

He further added that biofeedback can also take in other factors such as heart rate, facial expression, brain waves, body temperature, pupil dilation, and other such features to help improve matchmaking and spectacting. More importantly, Valve may potentially use all this during playtesting to further improve their future games.

The last bit sounds great to me. When you think about it, if Valve can get consistent results on whether a section of a game is boring or exciting, they can tailor it further to exploit its potential. This can be a breakthrough in game design or even gameplay if the technology becomes cheap and user friendly enough. It’s a very exciting time for gamers.