Reality is a Game

Game thinking from Adam Clare

Tag: HCI

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!

Some Alternative Human Computer Interfaces For Games

With new computer interfaces getting more attention I’d like to take a quick moment to list a few of them. A couple years ago I linked to a funny interface and game: kiss bowling. You can see it in action here:

Here are other crazy ways to interact with computers (and thus games). The more practical ones are towards the bottom. It’s with noting that many of these nifty interfaces are thanks to a little device called an Arduino, which is an open source prototyping chip board. It’s also worth mentioning the MaKey MaKey which is a simple way to make your own custom controller.

Fruits and Vegetables

And here’s a MaKey MaKey in action creating music using fruits and vegetables:

The Tekken Piano:

The TekkenPiano from Mc Cool on Vimeo.

This is the final product of my project for interaction design. Took the whole semester, to get this to work but it was worth it. How it works: The piano sends a Midi-Signal, which is transferred to an arduino. According to the signals, the arduino triggers transistors, which then trigger inputs on a paewang PCB (This is the PCB of an arcadestick). The paewang is connected to an Xbox360 (you can also use it on PS3).

SUPER STREET FIRE: TURBO CHAMPIONSHIP EDITION

This is made by the fun loving people at Site3 coLaboratory.

[It] is a simulated fighting game in the style of Street Fighter. However, instead of playing a traditional video game, the participants interact with the game with motions and thoughts; wearing interactive sensors for each fist, and an EEG headband.

Google Glass

Let’s admit that this belongs in the ‘crazy’ section of this post as it makes you look like a glasshole and Google Glass gives people headaches (via Hacker News). After all, my mobile can accomplish just as much as Glass (although it’s in my pocket).

More sane HCI

Of course, there is the stuff that you (probably) already heard of like the Oculus Rift. An Oculus developer did an AMA on Reddit, there he provided this insight:

Scale that may look right on a screen will be off on the rift if its not exactly like it is in real life. HUDS don`t work. Menus need to be in 3D. Motion needs to be perfect or it will make you sick. For instance in half life you are sprinting everywhere and its very uncomfortable. head bob doesn’t work. cinematic cut scenes that take control of your head, will make you puke.

The Razer Hydra is essentially a complex two-handed joystick that knows its relative position. Combine this with the Oculus Rift and you got a stew going!

Use your hands
Noteworthy are both the Myo band and the Leap Motion. They have the same basic functionality of swinging your arms and pointing to interact with screens. There is an inherent problem with these sorts of interfaces though: your arms will get tired.

What makes these two interfaces interesting though is they are meant to augment your current workflow and not replace it.

There’s also the Kinect, Playstation Move, and a myriad of augmented reality apps.

I’ve also willingly ignored a ton of wearable tech as that would be a post on its own, same with voice control (like Siri and Google Voice).

There are tons of other weird HCI options that I’ve probably missed. Feel free to leave them in the comments.

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