By: Jim Deal, Gaming Consultant; Gabi Zijderveld, VP Marketing and Product Strategy
We make and play emotional games, but these games do not recognize, analyze and adapt to our emotions. What if we had emotion aware games?
The games industry has had attempts at responsive, adaptive games that tap into players’ biometrics. Some required hardware which limited the gaming experience. Some have tried to varying degrees of success, to respond to user inputs and other collected data. Now it is possible to respond to the emotional state of a user just by accessing the all pervasive webcams attached to our devices. Without special hardware or complex data interpretation, Affectiva’s industry leading emotion sensing technology is poised to transform how we develop and play games. By measuring facial expressions of emotion we understand what players are feeling. This allows game developers to create adaptive games which can dynamically respond to and record player emotion.
What does this mean to a game developer?
This means that game developers now have a tool at their disposal that can read a player’s emotional state real time during gameplay and provide a channel to:
- Modify the game dynamically
- Supplement backend data analytics
- Add emotion data to usability and market testing
1 – MODIFY THE GAME DYNAMICALLY
While your game is running, Affectiva software can be monitoring the emotional state of a player from the background. It can be used as a trigger to alter the gameplay. Certain emotional states or feigned states can become control mechanisms for AI interactions. For example, a guard may be intimidated by a high anger metric, or perhaps charmed by a smile, maybe a storyline branches based on the user’s emotional state, or perhaps there is a stealth mechanic that relies on a user to stay calm and not get noticed by AI characters. The possibilities are vast.
On a more practical level, Affectiva’s emotion-sensing and analytics technology can give you accurate insight into frustration levels and provide a channel to tune and tweak dynamic difficulty, thus allowing for a smoother player experience and higher player retention/playtimes. Affectiva’s Affdex SDK gives you all of this just by using the webcam.
2 – SUPPLEMENT BACKEND DATA ANALYTICS
For games that use or intend to use data analytic back-ends, like Free to Play games, Affdex can be integrated into your current system. Through the Affdex SDK, emotional states over time can be added to the current data being captured during the user experience.
Aggregate chart of emotion tracked over time using the Affdex emotion sensing SDK
Imagine having this accurate emotional state data attached to markers you place that allow synchronization with the data already being collected. In other words you could have the emotional data associated with the three minutes previous to a player quit or purchase. This can facilitate more accurate profiling and provide the analytic edge your team needs to increase retention, create higher conversion rates, or identify and nurture whales. Better data means a better bottom line.
3 – ADD EMOTION DATA TO USABILITY AND MARKET TESTING
As we all know, game production is expensive and time intensive. Scientific methods employed to usability testing have greatly increased a development team’s ability to intercept usability issues and head off major player hang-ups, especially in the first hour of gameplay. Affectiva emotion sensing technology shows aggregate emotional response of potentially hundreds of users at key marked moments of the game. The resulting data, along with survey results can elevate the developer’s understanding of the user experience.
The Affdex SDKs run on Windows, iOS and Android. There is also a Unity plugin for Windows with the plugin for other platforms to follow shortly. Affdex is efficient and tuneable, using a small percentage of the CPU and does not use the GPU at all. It runs in the background in most games and saves only data (not images) with a small footprint.
To demo how Affectiva tech is used in marketing to test viewers’ emotional reactions to advertising, click here.
Or, to see emotion recognition technology in action in real time, download the free AffdexMe app from the Google Play Store, the App Store, iTunes or as a Windows App to see a tech demo that illustrates how our technology measures and analyzes facial expressions of emotion.
LINK TO UNITY PLUGIN AND SDK INFO
Developers can check out the code and get a sense of how integration will work here.
To learn more, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.