Playing the game with your emotions: the added value of emotion detection

by Soroosh Mashal, Software Engineer and Gaming Expert at audEERING

Have you ever wondered how cool it would be if games could also understand our emotions? Not clear enough? Alright. Let’s go through some simple examples.

Imagine yourself playing Wow, Fallout, GTA, or any other RPG game. You click on the merchant. Instead of a list popping up, you are also presented with a new option: “Joe loves friendly people, talk to him shortly and get a discount.”

You will simply click on it and start your interaction, just as you would do in real life. Depending on how friendly you were, you can get a good discount.

Not much of an RPG player? No worries. Imagine yourself playing Total War. You spent hours to gather resources and train units. As their general you want to send them to the battle. You can click on the option: “Give motivational speech” and send your troops into a frenzy, giving them 10% more attack, or you can simply send them to battle, watching them being perished by the enemy.

Not Strategy player? What about FPS? You are playing Division and you have to communicate to your friends. As a team, you decided to get more bonus as well as more realistic and immersive gameplay. Then, you can simply enable “realistic mode” and get 10% bonus experience and loot. If you don’t whisper, you are likely to be heard by enemies, and if you do follow the rules, you will enjoy the immersive feeling and also the bonuses.

Examples are countless; however, they clearly illustrated the added value Emotion Recognition technology can bring into any kind of video game. They can be used in parallel to normal mechanics and gameplay, or they can be used as a technology which you can design a whole game based on it.

The connection between affective computing and video games has already been proposed in scientific research some years ago. However, the technology was not reliable and simple enough, so that it can provide us with lightweight tools to be integrated into any game for any platform. Deep learning and artificial intelligence allow us to create models which can be a gamechanger for any industry.

For years we have been using voice as a channel to give players an immersive experience in video games. Hundreds of famous voice actors express their ultimate emotions in recorded pieces each day for video games across the world, however, we haven’t been trying hard enough to close this loop. Using such new technologies, we can use emotions of players as another input channel to control video games.

Game designers are not constrained by simple inputs from mouse, keyboard, touch screen or joystick anymore. They can tap into emotions of their players. They can connect to their audience on a level that humans do when they hear their beloved voice over telephone. Nowadays, this is totally possible via users’ devices processing power, thus, making sure the privacy of any player is intact.

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