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Biotech Entertainment Games

Improving Gaming Through Biometrics 34

PreacherTom writes "Programmers have long used the feedback of gamers to determine how to improve what they put on the market. British company Bunnyfoot aims to take things to the next level. Their assessments take pains to record the heart rate, respirations, facial tension, and eye patterns of the test audience in order to fine-tune the games. If only their motives were completely altruistic: one of the primary goals of their project is to maximize the efficiency of embedded advertising." From the article: "What Bunnyfoot specializes in has implications for gaming that reach far beyond in-game ads. Being able to analyze the way a person reacts to a visual is thoroughly useful for gameplay as well. Their technology works as sort of a 'super focus group' allowing them to collect feedback on not only what the person mentions afterwards, but also how they react during the game."
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Improving Gaming Through Biometrics

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  • And to think I thought games were fun BEFORE somebody figured out how to quantify why.

    This does lend itself to some interesting new development paradigms -- "Hey, Tom, we really need to raise the average pulse rate of the player by about 2.5 bpms. Get right on that."
    • "Hey, Tom, we really need to raise the average pulse rate of the player by about 2.5 bpms. Get right on that."
      Probably would be easy to raise the heart-rate if one of the bio 'sensors' looked more like a bayonet [] pointed straight at it. Ought to do the trick.
  • if you want to build better games, listen to players

    how many companies spend millions on research but don't listen?
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      Proper research is just a better version of listening. They are listening to user feedback as well as taking specific measurements to quantify and corroborate the statements.

      Research > "listening". If you listen to people they'll tell you "Opposites attract" and then 5 minutes later tell you "Birds of a feather...". What people say is full of inconsistencies and errors, thats why we do research.
      • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward
        Sure, proper research is valuable, but it's no substitute for service nor does it guarantee quality. The type of listening I was referring to is when companies produce what their customers want, not what upper management thinks is most profitable.

        If they really listened, they'd know we:

        . don't want to have to put in a CD to play a game.
        . don't want to pay $50 for a 50 cent CD and a cardboard box.
        . don't want copy protection.
        . don't want subscription fees.

        . do want the ability to mod and create content and t
  • by eln ( 21727 ) on Friday December 01, 2006 @11:39AM (#17065942)
    Now they can actually record my elevated heart rate, increased respiration, and increased tension right before I start swearing and throw their game out the window for embedding advertisements in it.
    • Because we all think that no games should have cars, guns, soda machines, stores, signs, billboards, radio, or anything else that can be attributed to a brand.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        Cars: Check
        Guns: Check
        Soda Machines: Check
        Stores: Check
        Signs: Check
        Billboards: Check
        Radio: Check
        Outrage at the Needless Violence and Gratuitous Sexual Overtones: Check
        Brands: Negative

        You can have a game with things that could potentially be branded without real brands. A lot of games, GTA for instance, take these objects as an opportunity for parody and satire. While advertising in games has been done for a while in cases where it would appear in real life (sports games dating back before the PS1 even), the
        • Alright, then if you have a billboard mocking a real brand in grand theft auto, then how is that any different than a billboard portraying a real brand in grand theft auto? Neither is more invasive than the other, neither is forcing you to buy anything. It seems people are outraged because they want to be making some of the money that the companies are.
          • I like the mock advertisements because often they are funny and entertaining. Anything that adds to my gaming experience is a good thing.

            It is true that no advertisements force us to buy anything, so obviously our aggression towards them can not be that watching those millions of car commercials on TV forces us to buy cars. What then offends those of us who are disturbed by advertisements in our video games?

            The problem is not that advertisments can not fit in a game. As noted many times, certain genres of g
            • All the advertisements you mentioned - car commercials, popups, etc - are completely different from a billboard ingame. For one, you are not interrupted by a billboard, whereas a popop makes you stop what you're doing and address it. For two, you see the popup whether you like it or not, whereas if you are not looking at the billboard up in the sky, you won't see it.
              • You're missing the point.

                The advertisements don't have to stop the game to detract from it. They don't have to force me to view them to have their impact on the game world.

                If there's a billboard on a road in GTA, I'm willing to wager I'll see it a lot. Unless they hid the billboard down some alley I'll never visit, I'm going to encounter said billboard. When I encounter said billboard, I am going to see it and whatever message it contains is going not going to interrupt the game itself, but it will interfer
                • I simply disagree that seeing a real-world item in the game detracts from it. Rather, for me at least, it adds to it, because it feels like I'm playing a realistic game, rather than one in an alternate universe, which only serves to further emphasize to me that I am playing a video game, and that it's not real. If I see a billboard for Coke, It furthers the illusion of realism.
                  • It's fine that you disagree, if you personally don't mind that's you, and I'm me.

                    However, you still have failed to address most of my points, especially as regards to games that are not attempting realism.

                    Were you to see Budweiser cans strewn about Orgrimmar after the orcs had an exceptionally long party at the death of the false warchief, would you think that it detracts from the game?
  • However, couldn't this be done by simply recording (video) the focus group as they play? I know it isn't as hightech, and you can't record heart rate and such, however you can generaly garner alot of indications about what a person is thinking/feeling just by watching them.

    And it is a heck of alot cheaper, and you get a more natural response. People will not activly notice when they are being videotaped (assuming the camera is unobtrusive), but when you start cliping things onto their bodies, they tend to
    • by Pojut ( 1027544 )
      a good idea, but it can be done semi-secretly. Just inform the focus group that they will be taped, however make it so that no cameras can be seen. That way, they know they are being recorded, they just don't know from what angle.

      Or you could use the popular vague term "We will be monitoring your reactions"
  • So... (Score:3, Funny)

    by skinfitz ( 564041 ) on Friday December 01, 2006 @11:40AM (#17065958) Journal if I snarl angrily and give the finger to the screen, with they finally get the message and stop throwing adverts in my face?
  • If this eliminates even 1 bad game, I think it will have been worth it. -wipes away a tear-

    Seriously. This should be required so that boring, stupid games don't even get published. So they'll KNOW beforehand how horrid their games are.
    • Seriously. This should be required so that boring, stupid games don't even get published. So they'll KNOW beforehand how horrid their games are.

      Remember that this is done for the marketters, not for _you_. It may seem like they only want the best games too, but sometimes their interests and yours may diverge slightly. Think of having to choose between the following two games:

      A. "The gameplay was fast-paced, interesting and with hardly any time-sinks. The players were busy and having fun at every step, and n

  • My guess is that they will find that nude characters evince strong reactions, increased heartbeat, faster breathing and perhaps even 1 handed surfing. They will recommend this to their clients. Blizzard are beta testign this idea by adding pretty Blood Elves to the World of Warcraft Horde.
  • The best way to make a successful game is to be a gamer yourself, and make a game you yourself would have a blast playing. At the end of the day, that's all a game needs to be: fun.

    Here's the three points a fun game should hit:

    Easy to learn, difficult to master - Anyone should be able to intuatively figure out how to play within a few minutes, but the gameplay should have enough depth to show a differance between a beginner and an avid fan.
    Sense of power - Your character/car/robot/whatever should
    • "The best way to make a successful game is to be a gamer yourself,"

      While this is to some extent true, you cannot replace competence with "just being a gamer", for instance art has nothing to do with "being a gamer" for instance and yet it's a huge part of the gaming experience. Although I'm sure it can help if you are a very competent artist. But how many games suffer from bad art or poor artistic direction? Lots.

      While I agree that FUN is the main goal, you can make a fun, easy to get into, hardcore gam
    • I'm going to disagree with you over a semantic technicality.

      The best way to make a successful game involves being a gamer. That is important but not the be all and end all, as evidenced by your own follow up. If all there was to making a good game was being a gamer making a game, we wouldn't see half the crap we do that pours onto shelves, then into bargain bins.
    • Here's the three points a fun game should hit:

      It's not that simple. Those three points are not necessarily enough by themselves, and actually implementing them is a lot harder than being able to name them. E.g.,

      Easy to learn, difficult to master - Anyone should be able to intuatively figure out how to play within a few minutes, but the gameplay should have enough depth to show a differance between a beginner and an avid fan.

      This is a good principle, no doubt, but fine-tweaking it to actually work is anothe

      • If you have to invest months to be able to finish an otherwise 10 hour game, most people will just get frustrated and hate it.

        I've been playing nethack for years and never even gotten to the Quest, with games that take a week to play able to be wiped out in a single bad move. Experts can routinely ascend an arbitrary character in a few hours.

    • Well, since I've said that those three points aren't enough by themselves, here are a few more to consider:

      1. Balance -- it's not just for Blizzard any more.

      1.a. Not all classes should do the same, of course, but all should have a fair chance of completing the tasks ahead of them. A rogue may backstab, and a hunter may use their pet to avoid taking damage, and a paladin might win it by attrition, but all should have a fairly equal chance against an equal level opponent.

      1.b. All classes should bring _somethi
  • Advertising within a game has been a great money-maker for gaming publishers for a while now, and I can understand why they would want to have this data. If they are going to spend money on the ad, they want to make sure it generates revenue. But I like the development of Bunnyfoot in another way: It ultimately gives the power to the gamers to decide where and when the ads will show up.

    Imagine if the gaming community had collectively decided to ignore the ads throughout the games, which was then recorde

    • in game advertising can be done well though.. rather than having them as true ads, throw in a couple cans of coke on the computer desk, have the car be a brand new Cadillac Escalade, They're talking about this kind of advertising for TV shows, why wouldn't they work in games? you could have the occasional poster or billboard in the game where you'd normally see them, just don't be excessive. subtle advertising works well for a lot of people, and I think would generate more revenue for the advertisers tha
      • That works great for games which involve desks, t-shirts etc. However, there are two points to be made.

        1) Not all games are in a setting condusive to ads (See WoW, Final Fantasy, Supreme Commander). A lot of gamers are afraid companies will start shoehorning ads into games like these.

        2) Even games that work very well as a platform for these ads can benefit from not having them. I always enjoyed parody ads in games myself.

        I don't begrudge the idea of soda cans on a desk in an office as I'm hunting down terro
  • They are aiming for
    - replayability
    - focussed attention
    - increased heart rate and breathing?

    Sounds like the next game they produce is going to be essentially just masturbation. more nude chixx0rs in games! w00t!

    On the brighter side, it's got some seriously interesting MMOG opportunities.

How many NASA managers does it take to screw in a lightbulb? "That's a known problem... don't worry about it."