Valve looking to measure sweat and stress levels to build better games

What’s Gabe Newell thinking about these days? The co-founder of Valve Corporation has a lot on his mind. “So right now I’m thinking a lot about longer term stuff… I’m thinking about the problems that game companies have getting movies made out of their games, and movie companies have to get decent games made,” says Newell in a recent interview with PC Gamer.  “What else am I thinking about? I’m in thinking mode… oh, I’m also thinking about biometrics. Sorry, that was one thing I forgot,” he continues.

Newell is exploring new ways to measure how a player feels while playing. We’ve seen how Left 4 Dead’s AI director adjusts the pace of gameplay depending on how players are reacting to situations in-game. But with biometric measurements, Valve is examining where your eyes are focused with gaze tracking. They’re even looking at your pulse to measure stress levels and how much you’re sweating.

The new data has already affected Valve’s development process. “So when you’re designing a game, you think every pixel is just as important as every other pixel, and you certainly expend effort that way… With gaze tracking it’s even worse than we could have ever imagined. A huge percent of the stuff we draw on the screen people never even look at. And so what you want to do is use that and redesign it,” explains Newell.

Above: Valve wants to know your pulse, how much you're sweating, and where your eyes are focused in the name of making better games

But for Valve, finding a way to conveniently measure things like your pulse rate or how much you’re sweating might have some surprisingly big implications for the social gaming sphere. “So we can stop using our guess at what your player state is in Left 4 Dead, that we kind of expected. But the value of being able to see what other people’s biological state is in social gaming, that was not something we were anticipating. But that’s just the way things go,” says Newell.

For more on Gabe Newell’s pursuit for a more accurate representation of the player state, you can check out the full interview at PC Gamer.

Source: PC Gamer

Sep 14, 2010


  • crazycraig2k10 - January 7, 2011 1:21 p.m.

    i hope valve keep making left 2 dead games as i think that they are THE BEST BLOOD A GORE GAMES EVER
  • brickman409 - October 19, 2010 3:24 a.m.

    somebody should make a movie about gabe newell (sort of like they did with facebook) and call it "dumb fat-lard genius millionaire" or just "The Steam Network"
  • xerroz - September 15, 2010 2:20 p.m.

    its still a gimmick
  • ThatGuyFromTV - September 15, 2010 3:40 a.m.

    I agree with CH3BURASHKA, this is really a matter or tech. I don't want to have to wear some weird, intrusive equipment while I play my games, it's annoying. The stuff has to be built in a way that the general gamer base will accept, and by the time we hit that point, I think games will practically be like Virtual Reality simulators. If it could work, though, god knows Valve could pull it off.
  • nemesisuprising - September 15, 2010 2:46 a.m.

    @MrDuracraft Ahhhh that makes sense, although I can totally picture them making an "exciting new revolutionary product" (aka a really uncomfortable mask made out of wires and foam) to measure it lol
  • CH3BURASHKA - September 15, 2010 2:01 a.m.

    I think it's good that they're experimenting with reacting to the player's bio-reactions, but as an applicable mode in games this is still very far off. Detection means detection instruments, and I'm not putting on a full-body sensor suit to be "immersed" in the experience. This will only work correctly when we're half-android, and the sensors are inherently built into us.
  • gigiosantos - September 15, 2010 1:57 a.m.

    That's just more proof that Valve is actually an dummy company created to cover up the existence of Aperture Science and Black Mesa.
  • MrDuracraft - September 15, 2010 1:23 a.m.

    @nemesisuprising I think it detects more nervous sweats or your palms sweating, not like your having a whole physical exertion while playing.
  • theintellectual - September 15, 2010 1:16 a.m.

    unlike most virtual reality gimmicks i could see this one actually working to great effect. imagine having the ability to observe your opponents pulse and stress level and use that to your advantage. the possibilities are staggering.
  • ShaneCedt - September 15, 2010 12:53 a.m.

    Maybe I can purchase relaxing pills with my new steam wallet
  • Tygerclaws - September 15, 2010 12:52 a.m.

    So, being the cold, heartless bastard that I am, I'll have an advantage/disadvantage when my heart rate doesn't escalate when I'm in the middle of a firefight, or when that deadly nasty-nasty cuts me off at the corner I thought was empty? Hmm.
  • nemesisuprising - September 15, 2010 12:40 a.m.

    ...I want to slap every single person that even thinks about sweating while playing video games...out of shape bastards...
  • Fiirestorm21 - September 15, 2010 12:38 a.m.

    sofaku, what are you talking about? This is hardly the same thing as motion controls or 3D. This is mainly referring to a large part of their internal testing process, with the mention that if there's ever a non-intrusive commercially-viable way of introducing biometric monitoring, then they'd try that out to get even better data.
  • FenrirKar - September 15, 2010 12:32 a.m.

    If any company can make something non-gimmicky with biometrics, it's Valve.
  • sofaku - September 15, 2010 12:27 a.m.

    enough innovations!! we all know motion control will never really hit off with the hard core community and i doubt anything like this would. the only one i understand is 3d that at least seams like it would improve immersion without ruining the game, atleast when the technology's right.

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