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Exploring Bio- reactive Gaming E-Gaming magazine by Tony Plaskow & Peter Chadha

posted 17 Oct 2015, 04:33 by Peter Chadha   [ updated 26 Oct 2015, 12:05 ]
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Biometric technology could play a transformative part in land-based and online gaming development, predict gaming tech experts Tony Plaskow and Dr Peter Chadha.

Initially mobile technology had the gaming industry excited, encouraging gaming on-the-go.  Recently, the “mobile” buzzword has been replaced by “omni-channel”, as gaming services adapt delivery across a range of channels – bricks and mortar to virtual – using flexible distribution to stimulate player retention and industry growth.

Looking ahead, biometric technology is appearing over the horizon. Technology that can interpret the emotional state of players and possibly even adapt games, in-play, accordingly.  Welcome to the newest gaming zeitgeist: a phenomenon we’re calling “reactive gaming”.

Physical effects

Tech observers will have noticed a significant increase in biometric science being aimed at consumers; no longer just the domain of the medical world – where instant blood analysis or physical response testing is commonplace.  Now, the use of fingerprint, face and speech recognition technology is becoming a regular security component of business and domestic computing and that is just the beginning.

Recently, Michael Rubenstein demonstrated the vibration of a single piece of paper lying on a table in a room being monitored from a distance, through glass, and used to interpret the words spoken by people in the room.  The technology is so accurate that heart rates can be detected by monitoring the neck pulse of an individual, again from a significant distance, without the individual being aware of being observed. All of this is achieved with readily-available technology, including public domain algorithms, cameras and smartphones.

Big Brother or big benefits?

This may sound a bit ‘Star Trek’, or worse ‘Big Brother’, but we predict reactive gaming using this type of technology may be an industry standard within 10-20 years.  It will be almost like playing against a highly skilled 'robot' reacting similarly to a human opponent watching for ‘tells’.  

There are some potentially significant and positive benefits to reactive gaming.  By understanding the physiological and emotional state of a player in real-time, very subtle changes could be made, in-play, retaining players for longer without affecting overall pay-out.

For example, without changing overall random play algorithms, if the biometrics are showing a player becoming noticeably angry following a lengthy losing streak – or fully relaxed after a sustained winning streak – the pay-out frequency could be altered slightly to calm or stimulate the player.


While reactive gaming can give the casino greater game input, it does not mean the player loses out.  So, while pay-outs may be set slightly lower for each win, the game could pay-out more frequently, thus retaining the overall win-loss ratio but providing a more satisfying player experience, similar to the bingo model.

There is also an opportunity greater player control – at least in terms of emotional interaction with the game – by, for example, offering a 'volatility index' during play. Players could choose the scale and frequency of wins and losses, determined by their physiological reactions such as heart rate, pupil size and so on. Thus, if they select a ‘volatile’ gaming experience, the wins and losses would be squeezed harder to increase their biometric responses; a more ‘even’ game would be provided lower down the volatility scale.  Again, this would not affect overall pay-outs but enhance the gaming experience.

Responsible reactions

We believe reactive gaming could also support the recent legislative drive for ‘responsible’ gambling.  The ability to track physiological trends, combined with betting behaviour, size of stakes and so on, could indicate to casinos when someone is gambling beyond their means or capabilities.

In essence, reactive gaming technology makes the task of protecting vulnerable players easier and, consequently, simplifying the ability to evidence corporate responsibility in this regard.

Over land and cloud  

Critically, biometric technology and reactive gaming will be as effective in land-based casinos as online.  Heart rate monitors on table tops, combined with breathing and pupil reaction analysis through remote technology, could become the norm for land-based playing, while headsets and web-cam technology would cover the online community.

Recent legislation in Nevada - allowing skill-based elements to be added to traditional gambling machines - could be the first meaningful step towards reactive gaming, as more gambling results become influenced by something other than a random number generator.

Whichever way this technology develops, reactive gaming will certainly provide a totally new interaction between player and casino and add whole new levels of communication and entertainment between the two.   

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