BRAINS ON GAMES
At Lord Bytesworth, we recognise the human brain as an organic computational system with seemingly limitless, untapped potential. A particular behaviour of the brain that fascinates us is its ability to produce feedback along neural pathways and interpret it as new stimulus - sensory hallucinations.
Methods of Interfacing
It is mistakenly viewed in the modern day that hallucinations are a form of malfunction and are not indicative of natural neurological function. At LB, we believe that this couldn't be further from the truth. The human brain is hallucinating all the time, just in subtle and often unnoticeable ways. The clarity of your vision is thanks in part to the occipital lobe working in partnership with predictive pathways in the neocortex to construct vision, which is a combination of what your brain actually sees (light that enters your eyes) juxtaposed with what it thinks it should see (feedback along predictive neural networks).
We believe that in the future, there will be ways to take advantage of this behaviour, and we have isolated two primary methods which could be beneficial for interactive experiences:
- HIJACK NEURAL NETWORKS BY INJECTING NEW STIMULUS
- INTERPRET NEURAL NETWORKS AND USE TO INSTRUCT THE LISTENING SYSTEM
HIJACK AND INJECT
By identifying and manipulating existing pathways via calibration, we can take pre-designed stimulation in the form of data and reform it to suit the personal neural structure of the user, which will then be sent back through the pathways with impulses which are within healthy and non-destructive limits. At first, the results may be noisy and fragmented, but with prolonged usage, the brain will adapt to receiving direct external stimulation. Having a clear interface will allow the system to induce specifically-designed feedback, and with time this method can be adapted for entertainment purposes - inducing controlled sensory hallucinations.
INTERPRET AND USE TO INSTRUCT
By identifying existing pathways via calibration, we can build a virtual map for the user's brain, and replicate sensory data in digital space. We can then use this information as input to be interpreted by the listening system. There are limitless potential applications for this, especially if such technology can become commonplace and utilised through accessible APIs. Using this in the context of video games will allow developers to design new experiences which take complex emotional states and reactions into consideration and adapt to suit what the player is thinking and feeling.
We can take the foundation ideas presented above and push them further by considering hypothetical use-cases. If we perfect the ability to hijack and inject stimulus, it could pave the way for creating new pathways with the intent of simulating entirely new sensations to the human body. For example, imagine a virtual role-playing experience where the player gets to experience life as an other-worldly creature, leaping and gliding through vibrant and beautiful alien landscapes on its four wing-like protrusions. Imagine the player being able to feel those extra appendages and move them like any other part of their motor system. The possibilities for immersion would be seemingly endless and limited only by creativity.
A SOCIAL EXPERIENCE?
In our example universe, one player has been enjoying floating around as a firefly on thermal updrafts, they enjoy being small and inconspicuous, and the anti-gravity coupled with the warmth of the drafts is a therapeutic sensation on their body. A friend calls to them via an integrated social (seemingly telepathic) network. The other friend has been relieving stress as a behemoth marvel of fictional nature - a lumbering giant smashing up villages and fending off attackers. For entertainment, they describe to each other what they have been doing and enjoy a moment of laughter regarding how typical their choices reflect their personalities. An idea is sparked: they swap bodies to experience the other's preference of entertainment and further humour is experienced as they fumble around in unfamiliar bodies and attempt to assist each other in explaining how to make the most of their new-found motor structures. We could be even more experimental and have multiple players controlling the same body.
But why stop there? If we could reach the point of simulating other bodies for human players, why not try to be more ethereal? We could give the player the agency to visually see wherever they want in a digital universe using thoughts and feelings alone, moving like a phantom spectator through the constructed universe. Further than that, give them the ability to create and destroy - make them gods of their own worlds and allow creativity to flourish.
Having agency over neural pathways raises the possibility to incite chemical production and movement, possibly inducing strong emotions in reaction to events. Users may seek out these experiences as an escape from reality or to enjoy the pre-designed experiences of developers. Imagine new awards being given out for 'best emotional production'. This field could be expanded with the concept of designing new types of emotional sensations, although questions of ethics would need to be raised and answered by that point.
This technology could be extremely beneficial to education sectors - removing classroom walls from the teaching paradigm and placing students in endless awe-inspiring environments designed to make them think constructively could change the outlook of society as we know it. The limits of reality may no longer feel like a weight on the chest of dreamers as they would have grown up around virtual worlds where reality is only limited by imagination.
BESPOKE SOLUTIONS FOR MENTAL AND PHYSICAL DISABILITIES AND CHALLENGES
Individuals that have difficulty interacting with the physical world, for example by a natural or accident-induced disability, could be greatly assisted with the utilisation of advanced neural-interfacing technologies. Here, we have largely been discussing technological application in regards to games, but such neuroprocessing interfaces would launch emerging cybernetics industries into the forefront and spawn a wave of consumer markets that we can hardly imagine.
At Lord Bytesworth, we enjoy discussing and designing proposals for new experiences based on predictions for future technology. Considering hypothetical scenarios allows us to preemptively design experiences and get people thinking about subjects which will be important to the progression of Humanity within the next century.
Though details are not disclosed, design proposals for security, remote-medical control and off-world industrial control are being considered with certain partners.