Affectiva, a company born out of MIT Media Lab has developed software that scans the human face to read emotional responses to games. The organisation aims to begin a new wave of ’emotion-aware’ gaming, by creating “games that read our emotions and adapt in real-time”.
The first to employ the company’s new initiative is a psychological thriller Nevermind; a game that responds to anxious or stressed responses by raising the difficulty level. The game, from studio Flying Mollusk, initially involved the use of heart rate monitors to track the player’s pulse during gameplay, but will now deploy a webcam to track how frightened they become as they progress.
The game can then respond based on the emotion displayed by the player. Consequently, players might find themselves suddenly trapped within a dangerous level, and forced to remain calm as they suss it out.
“Games are designed to take us on an emotional journey, but do not sense and adapt to a player’s emotions.” reads Affectiva’s website, “Our emotion-sensing and analytics technology is transforming the gaming industry, giving developers the tools to create more immersive games and providing gamers the unique ability to drive gameplay with their emotions.”
Flying Mollusk founder Eric Reynolds adds that the technology can not only be used to entertain, but to bring positive changes to people’s daily lives.
“It’s a stress management tool disguised as a game,” he told the Boston Globe, “When you’re in traffic or about to go into a stressful meeting, you can manage [your emotions] in the real world”
The software is already being used in market research in order gauge consumer reactions to advertisements. The Globe reports however that car makers, lawyers and robotics companies are also expressing interest in the software.
Affectiva will exhibit their software at the Game Developer Conference on March 16-18 in San Francisco, where a demo of their emotion-aware games will be available to play- including Nevermind. The company are also offering their Unity plug-in to developers who contact the email address featured on their website.