One of the more arresting booths at our recent Pocket Gamer Connects event in London came was that belonging to Brainamics. Featuring a gamer happily holding a game controller while wearing a weirdly sci-fi esque headset. We wanted to find out more, and managed to have a quick chat with Brainamics CEO and Co-founder, Philipp Zent.
It works like this: By popping a headset on a player, and measuring their EEG (what we'll call brainwaves for simplicity's sake), the system produces data that can be used to measure what emotions and sensations a player was experiencing. Happiness, frustration, boredom. AKA all things that game designers on all platforms need to bear in mind when producing a (potential) hit game.
The benefits are obvious of course. Developers have struggled to know what's going on in their player's heads. Some of the best designers have learned their craft over years of work until it becomes intuitive. But what Brainamics presents is an easy way to empirically measure emotions and thoughts in a non-intrusive way. Even if the big plastic headset looks scary at first glance, being able to detect someone's state of mind, and correlate that with what they're playing could prove invaluable.
Players may not be able to recall each point that was frustrating or which made them happy in questioning after the event. Meauring responses to the game's 'big moments' can be vital, while making sure that overall the gaming experience is 'a smooth ride' is important too.
Brainamics also utilises everyone's favourite tech, AI. In this case, Deep Learning Models help to parse emotional states. As Philipp explained, "Usually the signals from the brain are incredibly hard to decode, but using this tech means that for the first time it becomes relatively easy."
If Brainamics tech becomes widespread we may indeed see an uptick in game design quality. It's even possible to predict a time when developers may feel tempted to discard common design wisdom and solely concentrate on hitting emotional points. Given that Brainamics is already partnering with developers such as Avalanche Studios Group, we'll likely soon be seeing the tech inform upcoming game designs. You can also check out their work with developer and publisher Sunday, and how they demonstrated the use of their tech.