If you’ve ever exhausted all the difficulty levels of a video game then you’ll know the familiar feeling of boredom – but this could end with the development of a new controller.
Engineers have created a controller that measures what you’re feeling while playing and could change the game to make it harder.
The controller gauges your brain activity and can add more enemies to a game if the gamer gets bored.
The technology could be used by developers to improve the quality of the games they make.
For example, when testing games prior to sale, sections that do not score highly with those playing could be changed to be more stimulating. Or games could be made harder if the controller detects that you’re feeling bored.
The prototype is made using an adapted Xbox 360 controller that has small metal pads attached.
These measure the user’s heart rate, blood flow, and both the rate of breath and how deeply the user is breathing.
Combined with another light-operated sensor that measures heart rate and an accelerometer that measures the movements of the controller, a clear picture of how the gamer is feeling is presented to the researchers.
A custom-built game has been created to work with the controller that sees users playing a racing game where they must drive over coloured tiles in a particular order.
Corey McCall, who was the leader on the game controller project undertaken by Stanford University, said: “If a player wants maximum engagement and excitement, we can measure when they are getting bored and, for example, introduce more zombies into the level.
“We can also control the game for children. If parents are concerned that their children are getting too wrapped up in the game, we can tone it down or remind them that it’s time for a healthy break.”
It works by measuring changes in the autonomic nervous system – which deals with he brain’s emotions.
Brain activity influences the heart rate, respiration rate, temperature and other bodily processes. When these signs are measured it’s possible to tell what is going on in the brain.
Measuring the activity can be conducted in an non-invasive way and other work by the group involves monitoring the skin temperature of epilepsy patients in an attempt to predict when a seizure will occur.
“You can see the expression of a person’s autonomic nervous system in their heart rate and skin temperature and respiration rate, and by measuring those outputs, we can understand what’s happening in the brain almost instantaneously,” said McCall.
Video and images courtesy of Stanford University