Using Biometric Measurement in Real-Time as a Sympathetic System in Computer Games

Using Biometric Measurement in Real-Time as a Sympathetic System in Computer Games

Stephanie Charij (School of Computing & Mathematics, University of Derby, Derby, UK) and Andreas Oikonomou (School of Science & Technology, Nottingham Trent University, Nottingham, UK)
Copyright: © 2013 |Pages: 22
DOI: 10.4018/ijgbl.2013070103
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With the increasing potential for gaming hardware and peripherals to support biometrics, their application within the games industry for software and design should be considered. This paper assesses the ability to use a form of biometric measurement, heart rate, in real-time to improve the challenge and enjoyment of a game by catering it to individuals of varying ability. While the findings of this study are valuable to game developers interested in providing additional dimensions to gameplay and testing, they may also be useful for those researching medical or therapeutic applications for games. The results suggest that although the tested game was inherently challenging and enjoyable, the adaptive affective gameplay was not altering the game enough to induce strong physiological or emotional responses from participants. Biofeedback games lend themselves to medical applications, but adaptive affective games can be used to respond sympathetically to the player without requiring direct control of physiological responses as a form of input.
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Literature Review


Identification is the common ancestor to all biometric applications. The seminal programs adopting the use of biometrics were predominantly used for the purposes of security and identity of subjects in criminal justice (National Science and Technology Council, 2006). While these areas are still being actively researched (Planet Biometrics, 2012), identification through biometrics serves a purpose in more diverse applications and has surfaced recently within the context of video games.

Biometrics by definition refers to “a measurable biological and behavioural characteristic that can be used for automated recognition” (National Science and Technology Council, 2010). Put simply, the use of biometrics enables people and software to recognise a specific individual from their physical data. The characteristics that can be measured fall into two categories: behavioural (voluntary, e.g. gestures) and biological (involuntary, e.g. heart rate; Fairclough, 2007).

This study will focus on biological characteristics and in particular, psychophysiological responses, which are often measured to interpret emotions. Psychophysiological responses include: heart rate, skin conductance and muscle activity (Kivikangas, et al., 2011).

The current use of biometrics in video game hardware is limited. Motion controls recognise gestures from an individual, tracking movement data and mapping it to the screen for gameplay and control of system interfaces. In some cases such as Microsoft’s full body motion sensor, Kinect, voice recognition and facial recognition are used for player profiles and to avoid disturbance from the surrounding environment (Microsoft, 2012).

In contrast to the commercial application of biometrics, the field has been covered extensively in both applied psychology research and within the field of game evaluation (Kivikangas, et al., 2011).

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