When your gaming session is going well, it can feel like you're gliding along in a perfect virtual world of adventure and discovery. On the other hand, if the game starts slaughtering your character over and over again without mercy, that perfect world can quickly descend into a maddening rage-fest. Since few if any gamers really play to become upset, one designer has put together a headset that he hopes will put an end to your gaming woes.
Samuel Matson is the creator of the Immersion gaming headset, which he cobbled together primarily from the remains of an Xbox controller. Fitting snugly around the back of your head, Immersion looks a whole lot like your average Bluetooth headset speaker. In actuality, the headset also incorporates an optical pulse sensor that reads your pulse rate through color changes in your ear tissue. This data is sent via Bluetooth to your gaming PC and displayed onscreen. At a basic level, this allows gamers to see how upset they just got, pulling them out of the emotional reaction and back into a calmer state of mind.
That's all well and good, but sometimes seeing a few metrics isn't enough to calm a person down. That's where the next evolution of the Immersion headset comes into play. Matson has also created a prototype game that can take a user's heart rate data and adapt game play based on how you're feeling. The calmer you are, the easier Matson's game is. The more rapid your heartbeat gets, the more the game tries to kill you.
This might sound counter-intuitive, but the goal here is not to let you win every time. Immersion just wants you to remain calm and in the zone, despite what might be happening on screen. We think there might be a market for the alternative — a game which gets easier when you're maddened by its impossible challenges — but Matson's model will likely have a better lasting effect on players who step into competitive online gaming arenas like Counter Strike and Halo, where you have no control over the skill level of your opponents. If Immersion makes it past the prototype phase, there's a chance that the day may come when even the most competitive gaming realities will leave you calm as a stone Buddha.