What If... The Controller Was Your Brain?

By Jon Ireson

August 2, 2010

Video games have been at the forefront of advancements in entertainment for some time now, and it is arguable that much of this is thanks to the hardware required to innovate the industry from generation to generation. We have seen everything from better graphics, increased fidelity in audio, and more compete head-on with every other industry with increasing success each time. However, the real change that has been exclusive to video games is the way humans interact with their digital media. You may have seen the music industry evolve greatly over your time, but you still interact with it by listening to it. You have also probably seen film come a very long way since its inception, however at the end of the day it is still meant to be watched.

Video games are surpassing expectations as they continue to revamp the way we interact with our entertainment and open the gate to new experiences whether it be soldiering on through a war-torn battle, commanding troops to do so, creating the very world itself, or perhaps even more entrancing, simulating life itself in whichever facet you choose. The success of bringing such experiences into the living room has been the result of a long road of innovation paved by the pioneers of this industry who may not have always had the best technology available to them, but always sought to bring new ways to interact with entertainment to the world in leaps and strides. But what if something so futuristic, so beyond the scope of reason were to be achieved from this art medium?

What If… The Controller Was Your Brain?

Would games be able to be played with no controller, no silly-looking movement in front of a camera, and no energy other than brain power? Furthermore, would they be able to tell what you are thinking and possibly adjust difficulty in single player campaigns on the fly for the gamer based on aggravation / enjoyment levels? To be even more fundamentally analytical about the change that would have taken place, just imagine running through Call of Duty: Black Ops with just the imagination of doing so, throwing a grenade with the thought of doing so, and all of this without ever pressing a button or getting off the couch…

All of these ideas have come about before, and the funny thing is that they have actually become available to gamers recently, they just never took off. We have seen the evolution of controllers come so far in the short time that gaming has existed, from joysticks with a couple of buttons and a phone-like digit interface to the classic controller scheme and beyond with the addition of analog sticks, trigger buttons, and now motion controls. Even furthermore the re-imagining of how we interact with video games based on these technologies have given light to the fact that the way we interact with our games may be changing and pushing towards the line of digital experience and virtual reality.

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One might look at the chart above and wonder, what could possibly be next? At the moment the big three have turned the human body itself into the main input device for this generation of gaming, and though some old school gamers will tell you they are not into this sort of thing, it is providing the bridge for yet another way to interact with our entertainment that many people find enjoyable. What might the future hold as we step further and further towards full-blown “Matrix”-style entertainment like that seen in the Hollywood film “Gamer”?

One answer came in recent years with the arrival of Brain controllers, that’s right controlling video game experiences with your very mind became possible recently! With the Cyberlink, Emotiv Epoch, and a few other emerging technologies hitting the scene it seemed apparent that gamers would get their way into some mind-control game-play very soon. The Emotiv Epoch was perhaps the most ambitious of these, with announced support for anything with a dual-core or greater (even said to work with game consoles Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3) however nothing much really ever came of this due to the lack of major support and a hefty price tag (it debuted in the USA at $299 a pop). Despite the release of an open Software Developer Kit, major first and third parties never really embraced the Emotiv Epoch. This device was actually capable of doing many great things and could have changed gaming as we know it. Take a video below for more information on this device and some of the things it intended to add to gaming, and given the recent craze for motion gaming consider if this is something that could provide an enhancement to your gaming interactivity in future years when developers and gamers are perhaps more prepared for such a device.

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Jon Ireson

Jon is a gamer above all else. He plays all types of games. You can find him mostly in War games. He is very passionate and a hard worker and it shows through his writing. Favorite Games: Warhawk, Soldier of Fortune 2: Double Helix, Final Fantasy 6

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