31st March 2006




Poker has fast become one of the most popular online games, but how can you tell if your opponent is bluffing their way through a bad hand when you can’t see their facial expression? 


Dr Duncan Rowland, lecturer in Games Development at the University of Lincoln is hoping to find a solution. He has recently won a bid, for a quarter of a million Euros (£164,274) of European funding, to investigate how individual and group emotional responses can be communicated to mobile computing games.


The research is part of a larger four-year research project involving 17 partners across Europe. PASION (Psychologically Augmented Social Interaction Over Networks) researchers plan to continuously monitor players' physiological signals (such as heart rate, skin conductance, muscle activity) and behavioural indicators (such as variation in voice pitch, gaze direction, posture) in order to infer their emotions.


Dr Rowland's research will examine how this technology can be used within computer games to create more engaging experiences.


According to Dr Rowland although online poker is currently quite a popular game it bears little relation to the original game with players sitting around a real table face-to-face, trying to 'read' each others facial expressions.


“Almost all of the social signals - tell-tale signs that someone is bluffing for example, are lost when playing the game over the Internet,” said Dr Rowland. “Our work will create a whole new style of emotional gaming, and our research will look at the effect of putting representations of these subconscious signals into mobile games.


“Computer games are often seen as solitary experiences but this wasn't always the case. For example PONG, one of the very first popular computer games, requires two people to play and traditionally gaming has nearly always been a social pastime. We aim to create mobile computer games that are social by nature and require the communication of feelings and emotions in order to play."


For more information contact: Kate Strawson Press Officer (01522) 886244.

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