Emotion Sensing For Future Games

I’ve explored mindreading to enhance a game before and I like to stay up to date on what’s going on. This year we should be seeing more and more games using consumer EEG machines or other wearable technology that allows us to get a glimpse of what’s happening in people’s minds.

The Muse headband continues to be the best looking device, but on the experimental side there are some nifty new products.

This mindreading helmet records your stress level while you’re engaged in helmet-wearining activity like riding a bike. On it’s own, it’s not that novel since one can do the same measurements with existing head sensors. The useful part of MindRider is that it can be used to collect data on mass while not be an inconvenience to wear since you’re already wearing a helmet. FastCompany adds this informative bit of knowledge into the mix:

Cyclists use the feedback in different ways. “Most of our avid commuters are most interested in the mindfulness or relaxation aspect of MindRider,” says Ducao. “New cyclists are most interested how the high focus aspect–the red part of the spectrum–can help them know where to be more cautious.”

But the data may be most useful as it’s aggregated. Anyone with the helmet can opt to share it anonymously online, so everyone’s experience can be merged in an up-to-the-minute map showing exactly how a particular route will make you feel.

Sadly, their recent (and ambitious!) Kickstarter failed.

Don’t give up hope though!

While not a mindreader like the tools above, this experimental controller can sense emotions.

McCall added a 3-D printed plastic module packed with sensors to an Xbox 360 controller. Small metal pads on the controller’s surface measure the user’s heart rate, blood flow, the rate of breath, and how deeply the user is breathing. A light-operated sensor gives a second heart rate measurement, and accelerometers measure how frantically the person is shaking the controller.

Meanwhile, custom-built software gauges the intensity of the game, in this case, a simple but fast-paced racing game in which the player must drive over colored tiles in a particular sequence.

McCall can then compare all this data to generate an overall picture of the player’s level of mental engagement, which can be used to alter the pace of gameplay to better suit the player.

Obviously, these new tools can be used for play testing but it’ll be far more interesting to see how people can take these tools to create new meaningful gaming experiences.

When we combine the tools above with mind trickery we can really create some bizarre stuff!

The Great War: 100 Years Ago Today

Today marks the 100th year since the outbreak of the Great War and I’ve spent some free time in the last few months looking into the history of the Great War. Relatedly, I’m trying to get some games about the war made. The games I’m designing are about the insanity of war and the outright bizarreness of the First World War. There are so many things about the war that strikes modern minds as outrageous or, more bluntly, stupid.  At the time, the decisions made were sensical. These are the issues I want to address.

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Along with the team at Wero Creative, we’re planning on releasing a couple short games. The first one is pretty much done, Scapa Flow (which began at a game jam), the next will be titled Trench. If possible, I would also like to address the battle of the skies and some of the political aspects of the war.

I studied the war during my undergrad and it captivated me. The mixture of new technology, outdated logistics, old customs, hubris, economic shifts, and bizarre politics created a situation that was rife for conflict. History repeats itself and today we find ourselves in a similar situation (albeit with different roles).

So here’s some research on the Great War I’ve collected over the past few months. This should give you a bit of a primer on the war as a well as good jumping-off points to get more information (this is by no means comprehensive).

Modern context

First, like most big events in history, the war still has reverberates today:

Watch and Listen

For something with a cursory and very, very, very short summary of check this video out:

Multimedia Research and Tools

The wonderful people at Zooniverse are trying their crowdsourced genius at history. They have launched Operation War Diary, which aims to transcribe and geocode the diaries of frontline soldiers.

These diaries contain the thoughts and observations of soldiers on the Western Front. They detail the location, movement and everyday activities of hundreds of thousands of individuals whose stories are otherwise unknown to us. With 1.5 million pages to go through, there are many amazing stories lying in these documents, waiting to be read.

By tagging people, places, and more on http://www.operationwardiary.org you can help our team of historians to begin to reconstruct the lives of the First World War for future generations. This is an incredibly important project and we’re very excited to be working with The National Archives and the Imperial War Museum to make it happen.

Twitter feeds:

@RealTimeWWI
@GreatWar100
@CartoonWW1

Further research

Worthwhile sites to explore for a plethora of information:

Please share more in the comments!

The Great War at Sea

This is specifically research I did for Scapa Flow.

Britain’s Surviving Warships of 1914-1918

The German Naval Blockade of World War 1

The Battleships – Jutland: Clash Of The Dreadnoughts

Two Documentaries On Games Worth Watching

This first documentary is about the history of genre-defining video games of the past. It has extensive research into obscure games that were clearly ahead of their time. The genres covered are:

  1. First person shooter
  2. 3D platformer
  3. Horror
  4. Adventure
  5. Video Game

5 Genre-Defining Games Forgotten by History

This next documentary is all about EVE Online which is a game people seem to enjoy watching more than playing. If you’re new to the culture around EVE or unfamiliar with it check this documentary about EVE’s largest convention. Fun fact, the production was crowd funded.

A Tale of Internet Spaceships

Autopathography Game Jam

Sandra Danilovic is currently researching how games can be used for self-expression and autobiographical narratives. Autopathography is an autobiography of one’s life which deals with disease, disability, or a psychological disorder. It sounds serious, but the game itself doesn’t have to be.

To me, it sounds like this jam will create some really groovy experimental games that will hopefully push some boundaries. At the very least, it’s always nice to see games used in new ways. Signup soon as space is limited.

She wants you to participate in a small game jam that’s happening this fall :

I am currently recruiting study participants -game designers, artists, and developers- who identify with any disability, physical or mental illness, emotional trauma, or any other health issue or impairment – who would be interested in making an autobiographical game in a small Game Jam and being interviewed about the game design process. This ethics-approved qualitative research study explores the self-expressive and transformative potential of game design in building empathy and challenging negative attitudes about disability, illness or human difference.

The Game Jam will be fully accessible and organized by myself with complimentary lunch for all participants.

Also, I am willing to train any interested study volunteers in the software Twine, if they have never made a game or designed anything digital or interactive.

Details of the study and my contact info are on my blog: http://kookidooki.tumblr.com/

If you’re new to Twine, check it out here. I’m currently making a game for the #1GAM challenge and enjoying Twine’s ease of use.