GameSpot may receive revenue from affiliate and advertising partnerships for sharing this content and from purchases through links.

What If Video Games Could Read Your Emotions? It's Already Happening

"Emotion-aware gaming."


Boston-based startup Affectiva, formed out of MIT Media Lab, is bringing its software that scans your face and determines your emotion to video games. The company writes on its website, "What if we could play games that read our emotions and adapt in real-time?" An alluring concept, indeed.

No Caption Provided

The first title to use the company's technology is a psychological thriller game called Nevermind. According to the Boston Globe, when a player becomes anxious and afraid, the game will get even more difficult. This is just one scenario for the tech's application.

"Games are designed to take us on an emotional journey, but do not sense and adapt to a player's emotions," a line on Affectiva's website says. "Our emotion-sensing and analytics technology is transforming the gaming industry, giving developers the tools to create more immersive games and providing gamers the unique ability to drive gameplay with their emotions."

Affectiva calls this new wave "emotion-aware gaming." Using the company's software and a webcam, the program can "measure and analyze a player's facial expressions of emotion in real time, enabling emotion-aware games and robust game analytics, in an accessible and scalable manner."

The technology has application potential not only for game design, but also for audience mood measurement. For example, Affectiva says platforms like Twitch could use it to monitor--in real time--the emotional state and engagement of its viewers. "Also, the emotional state of the players can be exposed to the audience as well as other players, highlighting when a player is most excited, frustrated or jubilant," it said.

The Globe reports that Affectiva's software is already being used by advertising and market research companies to examine shoppers' reactions to advertisements. Other potential markets where the program could apply include automotive, legal, and robotics.

You can learn more about Affectiva's tech by reading the full Globe story or visiting the company's website.

Affectiva will showcase its software at the Game Developers Conference later this month in San Francisco. Attendees can try demos of "emotion-aware" games at its booth, including Nevermind.

The company also points out that it is offering its Unity plug-in to developers. This can be obtained by contacting the company at the email address posted on Affectiva's website.

Got a news tip or want to contact us directly? Email

Join the conversation
There are 59 comments about this story