Valve experimenting with emotion-led game design

Valve experimenting with emotion-led game design
Craig Chapple

By Craig Chapple

May 8th 2013 at 2:30PM

Studio working on how physiological and psychological signals can affect gameplay

Valve is experimenting with biofeedback and how it can be applied to game design, says experimental psychologist Mike Ambinder.

Speaking at the NeuroGaming Conference and Expo, as reported by VentureBeat, Ambinder said he was researching how physiological and psychological signals could impact gameplay, which could lead to a whole wealth of new data regarding the player’s emotional state.

He explained that some experiments included measuring players’ sweat to judge their level of arousal during gameplay, data which was then pooled into Left 4 Dead to alter how the game experience based on the biofeedback.

Another experiment involved tasking a player with shooting 100 enemies in four minutes, with nerves causing the game to progress at a quicker pace, giving the player less time to complete their objective.

“One thing we are very interested in is the notion of biofeedback and how it can be applied to game design,” said Ambinder.

“There is potential on both sides of the equation, both for using physiological signals to quantify an emotional state while people are playing the game. The more interesting side of the equation is what you can do when you incorporate physiological signals into the gameplay itself.”

As well as biofeedback, Ambinder said Valve had also researched eye-tracking in Portal 2, allowing players to control the gameplay with their eyes.