Valve has three big 'surprises' for us, is experimenting with biometrics

PC Gamer UK's recent trip to Valvejust keeps delivering bigger and better slices of mystery. According to Gabe Newell, Valve has "three pretty big surprises in the next 12 months." More surprises? Is the cancelled E3 surprise one of them? Is it Half-Life 3? Tell us Gabe!

Newell revealed,"I'm just laughing because... people will be shocked again." Dammit Gabe.

Newell also discussed something Valve has been experimenting with (other than toying with our emotions): biometrics. He also admitted that Valve and its games only exist to distract law enforcement from the true existence of Aperture Science. Okay, no he didn't, and Valve's new interest in physical monitoring is actually awesome:

"When you look at our games, more and more we have this representation of player state, where we think we know how you feel, essentially," NewelltoldPC Gamer.

"With biometrics, rather than guessing, we can actually use a variety of things like gaze tracking, skin galvanic response, pulse rate and so on. Through combining those pieces of information, we can get a much more accurate indication of player state, so that's something we're super interested in."

Above: Fictional?

Newell says that Valve's experiments have yielded "surprising side-effects," and that they may be able to implement the technology in "non-clunky, non-stupid ways" in the near future. Why would your skin galvanic response be important data for a game to have? Lots of reasons! Newell explained:

"If you're in a competitive situation and you see someone's heart rate go up, it's way more rewarding than we would have thought. And if you see somebody in a co-op game sweating, people tend to respond to that way more than we would have thought."

The idea that you could sense your friend's anxiety level as he's being crushed under a zombie dog pile is kind of awesome. We imaginethat severalsensors could be directly built into controllers, where your palm grips them. Is biometric sensing the new rumble? The new motion control?

There's more inthe latest issue of PC Gamer UK,so you should probably buy that, or so the chip Valve implanted in my spine tells me.

Sep 1, 2010

Associate Editor, Digital at PC Gamer