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Imagine yourself playing a first-person shooter. As the gameplay gets intense, your heart starts racing. The game detects your pulse and the beads of sweat dripping down your face and in response, speeds up the action and gives you less time to complete a mission. But, if you’re calm and not perspiring, everything remains normal.

This could very well be reality if Valve’s recent tests ever come to fruition. Valve experimental psychologist Mike Ambinder — yes, the company has an employed psychologist — spoke last week at the NeuroGaming Conference and discussed some of the Bellevue-based game maker’s work on making games more interactive by sensing player emotion.

Ambinder said that the company has performed body-sensing experiments with gamers playing Left4Dead and eye-tracking tests with Portal 2. That data can both change in-game action and also provide developers with responsive data to help them make changes to games, Ambinder added.

“Right now, the way it works is you map player intent with on-screen behavior,” Ambinder said. “That’s great. But if you think about it, we’re missing a part of the player’s experience. What is the player’s emotional state while they play? How are they enjoying the game? How frustrated do they feel about the game? If you can tap into that, all of a sudden you have a new wealth of data that you could use to create, in theory, more novel and compelling gameplay experiences.”

Along the same lines, Valve CEO Gabe Newell said earlier this year that the new Steam Box controller could have pulse rate sensors.

Get excited about the potential of this by checking out Ambinder’s presentation he made on this topic two years ago. 

Previously on GeekWire: ‘Dear Valve, Hire Me’: What happened to the woman who wrote that song

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