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GoatLord

Neural interface gaming. Then what?

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Trends in gaming seem to dictate a need for increasing sophistication in character control and environmental interaction. The Nintendo Wii took some baby steps by introducing its motion sensitivity, and of course both Microsoft and Sony eventually introduced their own form of it. Ultimately, the whole concept of holding a control pad and tapping buttons will disappear, and we will move toward the next form of interaction: a neural interface.

I'm not necessarily for or against this type of gaming, but it seems to be the direction in which we're heading. In addition to hyper realistic visuals and sound, gaming hardware will use a combination of thought processes, pupil tracking, speech recognition and gesturing so that interaction will be as diverse as it is in the real world.

Then what? How can you possibly have a more interactive experience? We'll likely have that sort of hardware developed within the next few decades, but something has to take us beyond that. Any thoughts?

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GoatLord said:

Then what? How can you possibly have a more interactive experience?


If self-driving cars are the future in the automotive sector, then self-playing games should be the ultimate in entertainment, by induction.

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GoatLord said:

Ultimately, the whole concept of holding a control pad and tapping buttons will disappear

Will it though? Maybe it's just me but I've always felt like an idiot when playing on my friend's Wii or Kinect. Never worn a VR helmet but I think I'd feel equally stupid.

When I play a game I want to sit on my ass and press buttons. Talking to my computer like it's a human being sounds completely alien to me.

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DoomUK, I'm absolutely sure it will disappear, but only from the mainstream. I think there will, for a very long time at least, still be an active community of "retro gamers" that prefer the familiarity of button pushing. I also feel pretty goddamned retarded when I use the Wii's interface, and I've shown no interest in Kinect. In the far future, even that community may eventually fade away. Even if older games are continually emulated on each new platform, a neural interface could easily take the place of whatever commands are needed to play the game. We may possibly be a very slowly dying breed of gamer.

As to the "virtual reality helmet" argument, that's more of a 1980s view of high-concept interactive gaming. It will probably be reduced to something far more subtle and non-intrusive, like a bracelet or even a device that you simply have to be in proximity of. There's also the infamous Playstation 9 commercial, which seems to imply that you'll breathe in a multitude of spore-like nanobots which will emulate the whole experience mentally, but being that you can die in most games, that seems like a recipe for disaster.

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GoatLord said:

As to the "virtual reality helmet" argument, that's more of a 1980s view of high-concept interactive gaming.

Hasn't Carmack been working on one lately?

Anyway, I wasn't suggesting VR helmets are what you're alluding to here.

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Unless whatever replaces gamepads and joysticks can offer the same exact degree of performance (at least) without needing a full physiopherapy treatment to be able to use somewhat proficiently, then it's unlikely they will disappear. Just because you can replace something with something different, it doesn't mean you should. And in some cases, anything different == worse. It's like trying to invent a better fork or better hammer: don't bother.

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True, but forks and hammers have such a basic function that there is no need for them to evolve. But entertainment is constantly evolving, so if a new concept is introduced to the mainstream and is accepted, that concept will stay. Movies might have stayed silent and black and white, except that the general public responded extremely positively to "talkies" and color film. 3D movies are still a stupid gimmick and will resurface from time and time, but may ultimately become the norm if they are widely accepted. Similarly, if enough of the general public decides that motion sensitive gaming and beyond is more enjoyable than traditional control pads, then we're screwed. It all depends on the collective response.

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The thing that bothers me is the 'gaming' part of the phrase. What if you don't play such games any more? Shit out of luck, no neural experience?

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Maes said:

It's like trying to invent a better fork or better hammer: don't bother.

Another example might be: why isn't every car an automatic?

Plenty of people still prefer changing gears with their left hand (or their right hand, in some people's case). Just because there's a hands-free alternative that's been available for decades doesn't mean it's universally preferred.

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printz said:

The thing that bothers me is the 'gaming' part of the phrase. What if you don't play such games any more? Shit out of luck, no neural experience?


Not sure I understand your question.

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My theory is that once we have this much access to our brains we will be able to take the part of our brain that takes pleasure in solving problems and completing challenges and just have it firing off constantly. Then there will be no more need for "games".

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DoomUK said:

Another example might be: why isn't every car an automatic


Because manual shifting still get better gas mileage under almost all driving conditions, and it's the One True Way for sports driving, hence a superior control system. That's why.

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GoatLord said:

Not sure I understand your question.

I meant that it's all for nothing if this technology gets developed only for GAMES. Because I don't really play games.

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i imagine neural interfaces will be used in the military, the medical world, for engineering, educational institutions, the possibilities are endless.

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printz said:

I meant that it's all for nothing if this technology gets developed only for GAMES. Because I don't really play games.


We have a thread supposing the eventual creation of VR equipment with Matrix-like fidelity and you're worried you'll only be able to play CoD 54 on it? Go watch Star Trek, Strange Days, The Matrix, Johnny Mnemonic, and then play some Elder Scrolls and start to imagine the range of uses such a device would have.

It could be the end of civilization itself, or maybe the thing that saves it. Would most people care if they had any power in meatspace if they could have a perfect VR? I can't wait to plug in the likes of Robert Mugabe and find out.

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GoatLord said:

Trends in gaming seem to dictate a need for increasing sophistication in character control and environmental interaction. The Nintendo Wii took some baby steps by introducing its motion sensitivity, and of course both Microsoft and Sony eventually introduced their own form of it. Ultimately, the whole concept of holding a control pad and tapping buttons will disappear

As far as I understand the wiimote and the copycat things are almost universally reviled for gaming, for being well, stupid. I know dozens of people irl with them. None of them like it, not one person. One of my friends so very much wanted to enjoy some zelda game on the wii, but just couldn't because you can't play the game with a normal controller, you have to wave your arms around like an idiot to play it.


If this is the future of videogames...count me the fuck out.

and we will move toward the next form of interaction: a neural interface.

Yes, and holodecks and fusion power and warp drives too...aaany day now, yep.

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Personally, my money's on a neural interface being the future of gaming. They're already working on the technology, and I think it's only a matter of time before that technology becomes mainstream. My take on it is, in any good video game, you're not consciously aware of the interface. When I'm playing TF2, I don't think, "Okay, I have to hit W to move forward, now I should hit the A key and strafe right," I just kind of decide where I want to go and my fingers automatically translate that into action. It's almost like walking - you don't think about all the muscles you have to control, you just will yourself to walk forward.

A neural interface would be the perfection of that, in my opinion. And personally, I believe that not only would it make gaming more seamless and natural, but I think it would open up doors to new gameplay possibilities, as well. Right now, we are limited by the number of buttons on a gamepad, and we can't add more buttons because our fingers don't have the flexibility necessary to operate all those buttons. A neural interface would allow many more actions to be performed effortlessly.

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I don't think that button pushing in some form or another will go away any time soon. I remember watching some press conference with Sony when Move was coming out where they were talking about the value of tactile feedback. It's one thing to pretend like you're holding a gun in your hand, and having something actually in your hand representing a gun.

Some kind of neural interface that removes the physical aspect of gaming entirely might work, I suppose. I can see some value in simply willing an action to happen rather than willing your body to perform something to make an action happen.

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In addition to hyper realistic visuals and sound, gaming hardware will use a combination of thought processes, pupil tracking, speech recognition and gesturing so that interaction will be as diverse as it is in the real world.


For me, one of the big appeal of computer video games as a teen was that I felt the keyboard, mouse, screen interface removed many inefficiencies, hurdles and inaccuracies in real life interactions. Articulating properly, with the right tone, making the correct gesture is a fair bit harder as well as more physically demanding than simply pressing a key.

Even thought process, although obviously an ideal solution, doesn't seem as clear cut to me as it seems to you guys. Who hasn't ever zoned out deep in thought while playing a game? For that matter, don't you ever anticipate your moves a few steps, and how would a game differentiate between "I'm going to snipe that guy right now" and "I'm going to snipe that guy as soon as I'm done punching this dude", considering right as you think it, your mind sees and expresses both things as one and the same?

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Nomad said:

I don't think that button pushing in some form or another will go away any time soon. I remember watching some press conference with Sony when Move was coming out where they were talking about the value of tactile feedback. It's one thing to pretend like you're holding a gun in your hand, and having something actually in your hand representing a gun.

lol those were Kevin Butler's golden days

Nomad said:

Some kind of neural interface that removes the physical aspect of gaming entirely might work, I suppose. I can see some value in simply willing an action to happen rather than willing your body to perform something to make an action happen.

I'd say "willing" an action to happen as much as you "will" your arm to move.

Phml said:

For me, one of the big appeal of computer video games as a teen was that I felt the keyboard, mouse, screen interface removed many inefficiencies, hurdles and inaccuracies in real life interactions. Articulating properly, with the right tone, making the correct gesture is a fair bit harder as well as more physically demanding than simply pressing a key.

Even thought process, although obviously an ideal solution, doesn't seem as clear cut to me as it seems to you guys. Who hasn't ever zoned out deep in thought while playing a game? For that matter, don't you ever anticipate your moves a few steps, and how would a game differentiate between "I'm going to snipe that guy right now" and "I'm going to snipe that guy as soon as I'm done punching this dude", considering right as you think it, your mind sees and expresses both things as one and the same?

Of course there are plenty of quirks to work out but I think the interface will eventually be able to differentiate between the two. I mean, your body can certainly tell between the brain saying "I'm going to do this later" and "do it now". Why can't this interface?


Also, I hope the controller doesn't go away too soon, as I want to keep using XIM on consoles as long as I can.

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DuckReconMajor said:

lol those were Kevin Butler's golden days


Haha. That wasn't what I saw, but sends the same message.

Makes me think about the commercials I saw for this "Steel Battalion" game, with some dude pretending to using a periscope or some shit and it just looks ridiculous. If I'm going to play pretend commando it's not going to be in front of a screen (I'll go to the park and run around on the playground equipment like a normal, rational adult). If I'm gonna play a commando game I'm gonna use something more responsive and accurate than flailing around like an idiot. At least with Sony and Nintendo's motion gaming you can be slightly more accurate than just pointing your fingers at the screen and hoping the game guesses where you're pointing accurately.

Motion games can be fun, especially in a party setting--but I still think they're too gimmicky to be anything worthwhile. They'd be better use at this point for developing skills in a practical setting than playing games, because I think when most people want to play something they do it to relax, not get all riled up.

DuckReconMajor said:

Of course there are plenty of quirks to work out but I think the interface will eventually be able to differentiate between the two. I mean, your body can certainly tell between the brain saying "I'm going to do this later" and "do it now". Why can't this interface?


Interesting you say that. I saw this a while back and found it incredibly interesting, and relevant to this thread:

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Although I am very interested in all kinds of technology(including this one) and am a supporter of transhumanism, I would be very uncomfortable with a chip in my brain. I mean, it's way to invasive and I think we should start with something simpler. Of course, this will greatly benefit a lot of disabled people but the change would be too drastic for society and even if such tech is released within say 10-15 years, I wouldn't expect it to become mainstream UNLESS a non invasive method appears.

EDIT: I know this sounds silly but remember that hacker from deus ex?Yeah, what if something similar could happen?

Now THIS looks interesting http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emotiv

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GoatLord said:
Then what? How can you possibly have a more interactive experience?

In earlier games at least you interacted by moving your hands or body, with a neural interface, you're like a vegetable sending signals to a screen. Interestingly, as with most high technology (mechanical production) our intervention and actions get reduced and the machine's grows in more complex rules that leave our bodies in an increasingly more inactive position.

Maybe the future is billions of unemployed or semiemployed supported by technology that does everything, with a cable plugged to the brain connected to a media device where we can passively dream we are free, and a tube up our gut to remove the accumulating fat as we drink our hundredth daily soda.

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On the topic of motion controls I saw this recently. Basically Kinect for your hand, but tracks it in 3D accurately and responsively.

myk said:

In earlier games at least you interacted by moving your hands or body, with a neural interface, you're like a vegetable sending signals to a screen. Interestingly, as with most high technology (mechanical production) our intervention and actions get reduced and the machine's grows in more complex rules that leave our bodies in an increasingly more inactive position.

Maybe the future is billions of unemployed or semiemployed supported by technology that does everything, with a cable plugged to the brain connected to a media device where we can passively dream we are free, and a tube up our gut to remove the accumulating fat as we drink our hundredth daily soda.

I'm hoping at some point our consciousness will be uploaded to machines so we can get rid of these useless bags of flesh.

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myk said:

Maybe the future is billions of unemployed or semiemployed supported by technology that does everything, with a cable plugged to the brain connected to a media device where we can passively dream we are free, and a tube up our gut to remove the accumulating fat as we drink our hundredth daily soda.


More like billions working in 3rd world conditions so that a select elite of maybe a couple hundred millions can "live" as you say. Said billions will have to make do with some sort of stupifying drug instead.

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DuckReconMajor said:

I'm hoping at some point our consciousness will be uploaded to machines so we can get rid of these useless bags of flesh.

Simulated sex fapping sounds like a lame substitute for the real thing.

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Partially. I just think we're so far off any of this stuff it's difficult to really imagine what it would encompass. And I can't help but remember that scene in Demolition Man where they put on VR helmets and pretend to have sex.

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DoomUK said:

Simulated sex fapping sounds like a lame substitute for the real thing.

That's still better than dying in your God-given body. But keep dreaming... we'll be too vulnerable when the power cord is off (assuming our brains are stored as permanent storage), we'll be totally under our yet-human operators' control when powered off. It doesn't sound so feasible any more. We could be manipulated just like any other software or apparatus. I'd rather count on actual biological discoveries to solve this "untimely, natural death" problem, not computer electronics. Die when you want! Maybe you'll be prepared to really meet God when you choose so (dunno how)!

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I'm not sure how I feel about that. I've been growing more attached to Nintendo wii, especially with wii sports, it's really fun to play with a friend any time of the day. But I also enjoy playing traditional games with controllers and keyboard button pressing. Manly for the reasons Phml mentioned. It's a little more physically demanding and I believe button presses will always be more precise.

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