EEG (electroencephalography) headsets have been around for quite a long time, but only recently have they become more portable, and cheap enough to be used for some more unusual applications. A new type of gaming dubbed ‘neurogaming’ that utilizes EEG headsets for gameplay purposes is creeping on to the scene.
Although ‘neurogaming’ isn’t mainstream yet, many are hoping that early games could turn the brain-wave reading headsets into a popular product. Much like VR gaming, ‘neurogaming’ just needs the right type of game to push it into the mainstream.
One such game is aptly titled “Throw Trucks With Your Mind”, as you can probably guess the game revolves around you moving in-game object simply by using your mind. After struggling to receive funding for the game from venture capitalists, Lat Ware, the mastermind behind the project decided to take the Kickstarter route instead. When the campaign closed on March 14, 2013, he had raised $47,287 of the $40,000 goal.
The game is now finished, and the team have partnered with NeuroSky (creators of the EEG headset hardware that the game utilizes) for promotion in their online store. Ware is now also often featured as a speaker at the annual NeuroGaming Conference.
The success of the game could be attributed to Ware’s passion. He got the idea for the game during treatment for his ADD as a teenager. After trying numerous different methods to combat the ADD, he took part in an experimental treatment that involved the use of EEG headsets to learn how to control your own brainwaves. It was through this experience he thought about how the same technology could be used for a gaming application.
The Verge recently published an article that looks at a range of different uses for EEG headsets. Many people are worried that EEG headsets can read their thoughts, which simply isn’t true. Electrodes are placed on the scalp of the user; these measure electrical activity that is generated by neurons in the brain. This is then converted onto a computer, allowing you to see the data, or even control a video game character.
In the case of controlling a video game, tasks are assigned to various brain wave patterns. These patterns change based on the users thoughts and are translated into an action in the game. Different thoughts and feelings have pre-determined brain wave patterns, no matter who is producing them, so video game developers can choose the exact type of brain wave they want to perform the action.
Another application for EEG headsets is research. Online gaming company partypoker used the headsets to produce a series of brain maps for amateurs and professionals at the different stages of playing a game of poker. The brain maps were then analyzed to reveal key differences in brain activity between the two groups.
The study found that managing emotions is a big factor in a person’s ability to perform consistently at a high level in competitive games. The brain maps showed that amateur players were easily led by emotion compared to the professionals, which in some instances led to poor decisions.
Another conclusion from the study revealed that professionals showed a more consistent level of engagement, which allowed them to remain focused in the moment and not dwell on previous hands or games. Overall the study was able to give a real insight in the world of competitive gaming.
We are yet to see a mainstream video game employing the use of EEG headsets, but as the technology continues to improve, and the products on the market become more affordable, the idea that we will soon play without controllers is very much a near reality.
Which video games would you like to control with your mind?