Creating truly emotional videogame experiences with Kevin Bruner and Rana el Kaliouby

At Two5six, Affectiva co-founder and chief science officer Rana el Kaliouby sat down with Telltale’s Kevin Bruner to discuss Feeling With Data. “Affect is the idea that computers can sense your emotions,” says el Kaliouby said. Her company studies human facial expressions as they interact with technology. “Having emotional intelligence and social intelligence is going to be a key aspect for new technologies … You can create digital experiences that will cause people to have emotional experiences.” As technology progresses, the devices we interact with on a daily basis will no longer require direct logical input from users.

Rana’s work in understanding how humans emotionally react to existing technology is key to developing our ability to use them with speech or facial input. Making technology understand our emotions will also be key in changing how videogames interrupt emotional input. Bruner, who is a founder of Telltale, is already exploring methods of understanding emotions in the walking dead.

Walking Dead is a game that preys on people’s sensitivity to violence,” he said. Choice in their series is cleverly engineered to sense user emotions in real time, thus crafting the user experience to adapt to those emotions. These questions are layered in an effort to “try and understand where the user is, did we hit a nerve or not.” Through collecting vast amounts of data on users’ choices in game, Telltale can adapt the experience of playing to the user’s input. “We make the world push back in interesting ways,” Kevin says. Combining these disciplines could help us engage even more emotionally with technology.