If you told someone 50 years ago about the kind of technology we see today they’d probably say you were talking crazy. The same thing happens today, but somehow seems even more crazy. Not to Gabe Newell though, the head honcho of Valve, who believes Brain Computer Interfaces (BCI) are the future of immersive gaming.
In a recent interview, Newell explained that our own bodies are just plain “meat peripherals” that are far inferior to the kinds of experiences we can have with BCIs. There’s a whole rabbit hole of information to dive into here, but the main point is this: connecting human brains to computers will result in superior gaming experiences, or at least so says Newell.
“Our ability to create experiences through peoples' brains that are not mediated through their meat peripherals will actually be better than is possible,” said Newell. “So you're used to experience the world through eyes, but eyes were created by this low-cost bidder who didn't care about failure rates and RMAs, and if it got broken there was no way of fixing it, effectively.”
Newell even believes that you could use BCIs to improve visual fidelity to a level far greater than even the real world: “the real world will stop being the metric that we apply to the best possible visual fidelity, and instead it's like the real world will seem flat, colorless, blurry, compared to the experiences that you'll be able to create in peoples' brains.”
In fact, Newell states that he thinks this will be a much easier process than you think: “connecting to people's motor cortex and visual cortex is going to be way easier than people expected,” referencing how it would actually be easier to do this than, say, making players feel cold when they enter a cold environment.
The earliest examples of using BCIs to alter a player’s experience was back when studios would use heart monitors on scared gamers as they played horror games in an attempt to make them even more scared. Though this was usually more of a marketing technique rather than an actual game feature.
There’s a lot of really cool stuff to dig in here, but the important part is that Valve are apparently working on an open source project that aims to bring BCI technology to more developers and open up new ways of experiencing and customizing the game experience:
“We're working on an open source project so that everybody can have high-resolution read technologies built into headsets, in a bunch of different modalities.”
Of course, BCIs have their uses in fields outside of gaming, and Valve is still helping with that by working on this project that is open to developers. But for now, it’s interesting to see that the world of The Matrix is not so Science Fiction anymore.
What do you think? Are BCIs the future of gaming? Would you hook your brain up to a computer in order to have a much more customized and personal gaming experience? One that would even alter your very perception of the world around you? Let us know!