As one of many gaming companies attempting to get closer — literally — to their audience, Valve is currently testing biometric devices that will track the quality of a player’s perspiration during a game. The tests involve measuring the pH level of the gamer’s sweat and linking it to their level of involvement. “When applied to [the game] Left 4 Dead…if a gamer was found to be sweating more than usual, the system would…change the game to advance more quickly, giving the gamer less time to react.” In addition, Valve has experimented with controlling game motions through eye movements, using Portal 2 as a demonstration.
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What’s the Big Idea?
The idea for tracking player sweat comes from experimental psychologist and Valve employee Mike Ambinder, who says that incorporating biofeedback takes gameplay far beyond what’s gleaned from interpreting button presses on a controller. Sweat quality and eye movements give much more insight into the player’s emotional state as they are playing, and Ambinder says that data provides greater opportunities for developers as they create the next generation of games.