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Valve experimenting with sweat and eye tracking

Valve's experimental psychologist Mark Ambinder has been doing some interesting research into biometric feedback.

Speaking at the NeuroGaming Conference and Expo late week, as reported by VentureBeat, Ambinder said Valve is keen on using biofeedback both to measure a player's emotional state during gaming and to use that feedback to affect how the game progresses.

The psychologist said Valve has experimented with measuring players' sweat, to figure out how excited they are. It then plugged that data back into Left 4 Dead, providing more information for the an AI director controlling how each unique play session works out.

More specifically, Ambinder ran an experiment where players had to shoot 100 enemies, and if they grew nervous or excited, the game's speed would increase, making it harder.

On the eye-tracking side, Ambinder said Valve made a version of Portal 2 played with the eyes, since you move them much faster than your hands. It "worked pretty well", apparently, although it's important to separate aiming from movement - like the way your eyes and head can face different directions.

Ambinder said biofeedback can also take in factors like heart rate, facial expression, brain waves (electroencephalography, or EEGs), pupil dilation and body temperature, and can be used to measure if a player is angry, afraid, energetic, engaged, jubilant, happy, sad, bored, fatigued, passive, relaxed or content.

Using this data, Valve could potentially improve multiplayer matchmaking and spectating - as wel as better judge how fun games are during playtesting.

Thanks, Shack News.

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