The Future of Gaming

This guest post comes from Simon Cave, one of our project leaders, and one of the driving forces behind Mirametrix Gaming

Lennart Nacke on Biometrics

As part of the Mirametrix Gaming team, I recently attended the Montreal International Game Summit (MIGS) to get the pulse of what’s next in gaming. There were tons of great sessions on video game production (how to write scripts, how to make a story realistic, how to create texture and realistic faces and so on), but what I was really interested in was the future of gameplay itself. What technologies can we expect to change gaming in the next 5 to 10 years?

Attending the biofeedback talk by Lennart Nacke, assistant professor at UOIT and head of their HCI and Game Science Group, was a no brainer for me. His talk explored the potential of biofeedback (using instruments that provide feedback on physiological functions) to improve game design and, in some cases, add new forms of interaction.

The main issue with biofeedback is that it mostly measures physiological states that are not easily controllable (e.g. EEG, pulse rate).  For these things, biofeedback can give game designers valuable insight into how users respond to their game experience, but would most likely be an ineffective way to interact directly with the game itself.  And yes, most of these technologies are too invasive at this point to expect the average gamer to use (captors placed on the cheeks and between the eyebrows, for example).  But I still believe that breakthroughs in these areas may very well broaden our definition of what gameplay is at some point.

Gaze tracking is an example of a technology making the transition from an analysis tool to an interaction technology. Emotional analysis doesn’t look like it may be that far behind.  The advantage these technologies have is that people have found ways to collect and analyse this information without any form of physical contact with users.  Emotion is also already tied to what is considered an important part of the gaming experience.  As one audiophile noted, composers are paid to put emotion into games (Apologies, we can’t remember who it was!); What if games could also adjust audio or other content to your current emotional state in addition to your point in the game? It remains to be seen what kind of benefit this will have for gamers, but who knows, the analysis tools of today might turn out to be the game changers of tomorrow. It’s something worth following.

And what of today’s game changers? They seem to have taken their cue from Halting State. Ingress and Canadian based Clandestine Anomaly promise to bring gaming to the everyday.  With the growth in mobile technologies, expect more on the social gaming and augmented reality front.

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