When you play video games, what’s going on in the fleshy bits of you that are under the skin and between the ears? When you have a certain kind of gaming experience, does your breathing change? Your heart rate? How exactly do your eyes move across the screen and what draws their attention? What parts of your brain are lighting up when you make decisions about spending upgrade points or when you interact with an NPC?More to the point, how can that information –the study of which is broadly known as “psychophysiology”– be used to make better games? What if the monster chasing you could track you down from your accelerated heart rate and breathing? Or what if the NPC in a game wouldn’t trust your character if you (the player) were making the wrong facial expressions? Ooh! Or what if those kinds of physiological and biological responses were used as input into a game? Like what if you could control games by controlling your breathing or muscle movements?
These are the kinds of topics that I discuss with this week’s guest on the podcast, Lennart Nacke from the University of Waterloo. He’s an expert on the intersection of psychophysiology and game design, and he has some pretty surprising things to say about the use of biofeedback in games and how it’s going to change in the near future.
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- “Robot Motivation” by The Polish Ambassador, licensed under Creative Commons: CC BY-NC-SA 3.0