‘Mind reading’ to predict the success of online games

February 8, 2013

Researchers in Taiwan recorded the electrical signals of muscles involved in positive and negative emotions when subjects played a new online game. They used it to predict whether people would find the game addictive. (Credit: Multimedia Networking and Systems Lab/Institute of Information Science, Academia Sinica)

On a first date, couples scrutinize each other’s facial expressions for a clue as to whether the date will turn into a long-term relationship. Game publishers and designers might start doing the same thing.

By analyzing the movements of gamers’ smile and frown muscles in the first 45 minutes of play, Taiwanese researchers have found a way to predict a game’s addictiveness, reports IEEE Spectrum.

“Such forecast results might give game designers the green light to complete a new potential game or advise they drop a hopelessly doomed one,” says Kuan-Ta Chen (now known as Sheng-Wei Chen), an associate research fellow at the Institute of Information Science, Academia Sinica, in Taipei.

The online gaming industry sees a game that is played by a large number of fanatics and survives more than two years as a success, says Chen. But that success comes at a cost. Blizzard Entertainment, for example, reportedly spent 4.5 years and US $63 million to develop its popular online video game World of Warcraft, which was released in 2004. For upkeep and expansion, it invested tens of millions more. …