Biometrics

nintendo wii motionplus
Ladies and gentlemen, let me introduce you to the most intuitive control scheme we've ever had in the games industry. Some of you may have already heard about it.

Motion control made it easy to understand how to play games in this generation. Swing your arm like you were playing tennis and your avatar will swing her arm in the same way and hit the ball if it’s close enough. That level of simplicity made it easy for almost everybody to just pick up a controller and start playing, which basically translated into mountains of money spontaneously appearing at the Nintendo Headquarters.

Now, that’s all well and good, I mean, expanding the potential audience for games is something we should have attempted for quite some time, but as a game designer I have to say that motion control is very restrictive and can only enhance certain types of games. You just have to build your game around it or not use it at all.

Good, but what does that have to do with biometrics? Well, I think that that’s going to be the next “big thing” for the next generation of consoles (no, not this one, the one that isn’t out yet). You see, motion control fundamentally changes the way in which we interact with games, but biometrics are an added form of input that can be used in combination with any other kind of input. Granted, the sensors have to be small enough to be not that inconvenient, which is probably the biggest factor against biometrics: they’re kind of a pain in the behind for the user right now. The Vitality Sensor of Nintendo doesn’t look like something I’d like to use while “gaming” in the traditional sense of the word.

Anyway, with biometrics we can have an educated guess on the state the player is in. Is she angry? Calm? Excited? Furious? Scared out of her mind?

I mean, just think about it, the potential I can already see is two-fold:

  1. You can have a tailor-made experience: the game will balance and pace itself depending on your current state. Basically, the game will be able to moderate it’s own difficulty now that it has more information about the player and not just what she has done in the game up until now. Valve springs to mind, doesn’t it?
  2. Or you could f*ck with the player’s mind. For instance, in a survival horror game, if the player is calm, try to freak them out with little details and sound cues and once she gets uneasy, only then unleash your unexpected event (monsters in closets would be the most unimaginative example). Just imagine Eternal Darkness with biometric sensors.
wii vitality sensor
Aaahh yes, according to your fingertip, you are now calm, therefore you'll live a long and prosper life but you'll experience some problems along the way. Please buy more DLC if you want to continue.

And that’s thinking about traditional games, we could do so much more with software in the same vein as Wii-Fit. Some pseudo-science might make it’s way to consoles thanks to this which makes me cringe, but hey, everything has to have at least one negative side.

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