Videogames are an entertainment medium based on human interacting with machine, but ever since the early days of Pong and Space Invaders, that relationship has been largely one-sided. Sure, there have been a number of leaps and bounds in terms of graphics and storytelling, with a number of games in recent years rivaling the narrative power of television and cinema, but the player-game relationship has always boiled down to this: human watches screen, human presses button, game changes screen, repeat.
Things are about to change with the next generation of gaming consoles set to kick off biometric gaming across all platforms, including mobile. The years of watching and reacting are about to turn from a one-way street into an eight lane expressway as biometrics allow games to watch player and react to them.
The Xbox One which is slated for launch on November 22 at a price of $499, with 525,000 units already pre-ordered, is the most prominent example. It uses its Kinnect camera to measure player biometrics. Introduced during this current gaming generation, the original Kinnect was a motion control device, introduced to capitalize on the popularity of the Nintendo Wii in the family gaming market and increase gamer interactivity. This next generation goes a long way in terms of improving on the peripheral hardware: being leveraged as a biometric controller used for account sign in via facial recognition so that instead of gamers interacting with games, it’s the other way around.
Easy account management is just a tip of the iceberg.The Xbox One is said to measure a player’s vital biometrics in addition to recognizing and tracking faces. In doing so a game can react to a player’s fear, embarrassment, bashfulness and boredom, tailoring the most exciting, relaxing or stimulating gaming experience. The largest gaming market, however, does not belong to the console, it sits firmly in mobile.
“We’re in the very early stages of a biometric gaming revolution,” Says Paul Watson, CEO of OBJE, discussing the company’s current mobile gaming projects that measure player responses, like horror titles that respond to a player’s fear.
Though OBJE shows interest in console gaming market, the current offerings from Obscene Interactive, OBJE’s gaming division, are mobile based. The division is currently working alongside Activision, Electronic Arts (EA) on number of social interaction mobile games available on the Appstore and Google Play.
Activision and EA are important to note in the scenario. Both have hands in console markets and mobile gaming, and both have games set to release on the Xbox One’s launch. OBJE has stated that it wants to capitalize on trends in micro transactions: optional in-game purchases that started on social media and mobile games, but thanks to EA in particular, are beginning to show up on home console titles like Dead Space 3.
Though OBJE says it is interested in console gaming, its current focus is on mobile. Those gamers itching for a more interactive experience on their entertainment systems as opposed to their phones can remain optimistic, however: with friends like EA and Activision, if there is indeed a market for biometric gaming, you can be sure it will make an appearance on every platform that allow for it.