Immersion: Video Game Biofeedback


We’re not sure how scientific the following hack is, but it’s certainly interesting. Designer [Samuel Matson], interested in the correlation between gaming and stress, has pieced together a device that provides biofeedback during gameplay. He referenced this /r/gaming thread—which measured a player’s heart rate during a Halo session—as well as conducted his own tests that monitored the heart rate of gamers. After several iterations, [Samuel] had the above-pictured headset, which features the familiar and hackable pulse sensor placed by the earpiece.

The headset uses a TinyDuino and a Bluetooth TinyShield to communicate to the gamer’s computer in real time. He didn’t stop with simply monitoring heart rates, however; he integrated the signal into the game design. [Samuel] used indie-favorite game engine Unity3d to create a third-person shooter that reacts to the pulse sensor by raising the difficulty level when the player’s heart rate increases. It seems that his goal is to reduce or control stress among players, but we suspect inverting the model may be more effective: have the game cut you some slack when you’re stressed and present a challenge when you’re mellow.

[Thanks Ken]


  1. hoga says:

    You should wear this while on the toilet, you can even tweet the fact of completing a dump.

  2. Luc Lagarde says:

    So let me get this straight: the goal is to find the avalanche breakdown point of the human brain?

  3. J says:

    I really like the way it looks. It looks like a finished and polished product.
    But I don’t get why the difficulty should go up when you are stressed. I would think it should go up when you are bored, and down when you get too stressed, right?

  4. Eirinn says:

    “but we suspect inverting the model may be more effective: have the game cut you some slack when you’re stressed and present a challenge when you’re mellow.”

    The issue here is that you get rewarded for raging – which is the opposite of what the project is about :) AFAIK this project was made as a reference to gamer rage, not gamer stress.

    • Josh Marsh says:

      Can you fake raging though? (or does that matter); for instance, if the game notices you’re beginning to become agitated and gets a little easier, wouldn’t that curve difficulty (and thereby reduce raging?)

      Assuming rage and difficulty are related in that way.

      • somun says:

        I think the idea here is; if the game gets harder you’ll probably lose i.e die. So, in order to win or stay alive longer you will need to learn to deal with your stress level, get calm, etc.

  5. Andrew Jones says:

    Why is this not on kickstarter? to quote Futurama: SHUT UP AND TAKE MY MONEY!

  6. Ren says:

    Where are the electro-shock feedback pads? B^)

  7. Regulus says:

    That’s some nice looking hardware! I’d probably buy that device if it were cheap enough.

  8. s7726 says:
  9. camerin says:

    Hmm.. every time they enter combat they come out dead…

  10. popeiler says:

    Increasing difficulty as the pulse increases sounds like positive feedback to me. it does not seem like recovery from an elevated difficulty would be likely.

  11. Barbara says:

    This is an interesting concept. My son has been playing video games a lot lately and he seems more stressed than usual. Definitely food for thought…

  12. Shox says:

    What font is the Immerson in? Anyone know?

    + 1 for electroshock addon

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