I was just forwarded this news article about a headset that can read the player’s brain activity and translate it into commands for a game:
Immediately a score of game ideas swam into my mind, and telekinesis was just the most obvious of them. How about a fantasy game where the power of your spells is influenced by how much brain activity you’re experiencing? Or where your spells might fail if you get too excited? A game where you get a time-limited berzerk if you get very agitated or an adrenaline bonus if you get excited during combat. Your aim with the sniper rifle steadying if you meditate a little. Your nemesis taunting you with how shocked you are to see him again after you thought he was dead!
Imagine a horror game where your fear or anger empowers the monsters. If you give the player a wise-cracking companion who can make him or her smile in the middle of a really scary situation, that’ll actually drive the monsters away for a bit or make them weaker. Conversely, if you want to make things worse for the player, let something bad happen to that companion, making the player angry and shocked and in turn making the monsters more vicious and powerful. Thinking happy thoughts will litterally make everything better.
Imagine a puzzle game where you have to conjure up specific emotions to cause specific effects, solving puzzles that way. Imagine in Star Wars if Yoda or Darth Vader can “sense much anger in you…” or in Mass Effect if you had to actually relax to let Liara into your mind. If you’re broadcasting your emotions, telepathic characters can predict your movements, dodging them. If you’re good at calming your mind, they’d lose that advantage. Monsters who find their prey by reading your thoughts could be rendered blind if you can control your feelings.
Implementing the headset in a dialogue system could produce fantastic results:
“You seem tense, is something bothering you?”
“Hey look at you, what are you so happy about?”
“Don’t be angry with me, I didn’t do it on purpose!”
A studio like Valve would be able to let you interact with characters through what you are feeling without having to put a more independent avatar between you and the world. I don’t know how sensitive the technology is in reality of course, but imagine if Alyx could tell what you think about a plan simply by “the look on your face” (determined by the readings of the headset of course).
And that’s just what I can come up with in half an hour. The possibilities are pretty much endless if the technology is accurate enough. I hope this headset gains good support so its price will drop and its feature set will continue to be developed. I really want to make some games for that thing!