Games over the years have incorporated various ways to bring interactivity with players. Joysticks, light guns, keyboards and other input devices come to mind. But there have been a handful of games with biosensors incorporated as part of gameplay.
A paper last May from TS2 Space discusses The Role of Biometric Sensor Technology in Gaming and Entertainment and states they have the potential to revolutionize the virtual reality gaming industry.
Let’s explore biosensors in gaming:
The sensor above is the Nintendo Bio Sensor, an accessory released in Japan for the Nintendo 64. In order for it to work, the player was required to attach the clip to one of their earlobes. The accessory was made exclusively for Tetris 64 (and came packaged with it). With the Bio Sensor, players could control the game with their heart beat. The faster their heart beat, the worse they would perform in the game.
Nintendo looked to introduce a new sensor, the Wii Vitality Sensor, in 2009. It has been suggested by Satoru Iwata that it would be used to relax the player, telling them their heartbeat and about their body. It was confirmed in 2013 the peripheral had been cancelled.
In Australia, researchers from the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology have created the “Guts Game,” a swallowable biosensor which offers an unusual new spin on the concept of gamification.
“We believe games [based] around sensors can motivate patients to use the sensor and enhance the overall experience of the treatment. Our game shows an opportunity to make pill-taking interesting.”
The Guts Game takes the form of a two-player endeavor in which both players start by swallowing a CorTemp sensor. This tiny wireless sensor is designed to transmit information about the swallower’s core body temperature as it travels through their digestive tract. Both players must complete game tasks by changing the body temperature measured by an ingestible sensor. The goal is to get rid of a virtual parasite within 24 to 36 hours. To do this, they can perform real actions like drinking hot or cold drinks, eating spicy food to cause them to sweat, exercising hard, and more. The game ends when the sensor is excreted. The winner is the player who racks up the most points during that time. Think of it like a swallowable, bio-sensing version of the game “Simon says.”
NeuroSky markets the MindWave Mobile 2 EEG Headset to measure brain waves. With it comes free apps including NeuroWikium and EEG Mindroid Blink Bird, among others including MyndPlay Sports Bowling and Tug of War 2 Player.
Speculation that Sony would include bio sensors in the controllers for the PlayStation 5 come from a Sony patent describing such. It lists several sensors to measure the stress using perspiration, or heart rate sensors. The console would receive the data to adapt the content of a game according to the users’ emotions. The player would be able to enjoy a personalized and more immersive gaming experience than with a classic controller. While the PS5 was not introduced with such controllers, it is conceivable Sony could release them in the future or with specific game(s).
A Stanford team a few years ago modded an Xbox controller with biometric sensors. It was designed to monitor the autonomic nervous system via peripheral signals detectable in a player’s hands, such as heart rate, movement, perspiration and respiration rate.
In a Stanford news post, creator Gregory Kovacs, a professor of electrical engineering at Stanford, the technology could be used to design games that respond to players.
“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,” he 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.”
Valve’s experimental psychologist Mark Ambinder in 2013 was doing some interesting research into biometric feedback.
Speaking at the NeuroGaming Conference and Expo late week, as reported by VentureBeat, Ambinder said Valve is keen on using biofeedback both to measure a player’s emotional state during gaming and to use that feedback to affect how the game progresses.
The psychologist said Valve has experimented with measuring players’ sweat, to figure out how excited they are. It then plugged that data back into Left 4 Dead, providing more information for the an AI director controlling how each unique play session works out.
More specifically, Ambinder ran an experiment where players had to shoot 100 enemies, and if they grew nervous or excited, the game’s speed would increase, making it harder.
There are likely many more – if you know if bio sensors for gaming please post them in the comments below.