The future of gaming is all in your head. Literally.

neurogaming conference 2013 image7When people say things like “this is the future of gaming” it is generally framed with rhetoric. When the Kinect was released, you heard that a lot – and it was true, just in a limited way. The Kinect was the future of gaming in the sense that it used technology that wasn’t possible a few years earlier, so it was a technological jump. Still, the Kinect is viewed by most as just another peripheral, not something that redefines gaming on a larger scale. The same cannot be said for some of the things being discussed at the first Neurogaming Conference held this week in San Francisco.

If you look up the word “neurogaming” in the Oxford English dictionary, you won’t find an entry. “Braggadocious” managed to sneak in there somehow, but “neurogaming” is simply too new a word to have entered the lexicon – but it is one that is going to resonate for years. Unlike the term “gesture control” that describes the Kinect though, “neurogaming” is a much broader term that covers a huge array of devices, fields, and ideas.

Nike will one day happily brand your skull with a device that tracks your physiological response to certain things.

One day, we will sit down on the couch, jump online to join some friends, and put on our skullcaps that read brainwaves and translate them into control inputs. That isn’t science-fiction, it is science-future. God help us all when a competitive multiplayer game adopts this technology. After a few too many deaths in a match, you may see characters suddenly burst into flame and explode as their controller gets just a bit too angry to moderate their brainwaves. Forget rage quitting, the future is rage exploding.

The future of gaming will be more interactive than anyone has seriously dreamed of, and it is closer than you may think. It’s impossible to put a timeframe on it – there are too many factors – but the day when gaming becomes a cooperative event between a person and their machine is coming. And not in a creepy way.

That is what the Neurogaming Conference is all about. This week in San Francisco, engineers, CEOs, developers, researchers, and people interested in the future of gaming technology – and, really, technology in general – have come together to hear lectures and discussions from industry leaders. They are also here to check out some of the new technology that is cutting edge today, but will be remembered as the first step in something much more important.

Day one began with a discussion about where the neurogaming industry is and where it is going. The talk veered into the theoretical, but the consensus was that the technology currently used in neurogaming is the first stage of an evolution that will reshape the way we live. That is not hyperbole. Okay, maybe it is a little hyperbole. But only a little.

The same tech used to monitor EEGs – which is to say, the electrical activity in your brain – and translate them into commands to throw virtual trucks at people has therapeutic benefits as well. Studies have shown that neurogaming can be used to help people with autism, as well as soldiers suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. It can also be used to help people of all ages learn. One day we may send our kids off to school where the adorable little tykes are expected to put away their book bags, take their seats, insult their teachers, and put on their neuro cap to accelerate their learning speed. It will be a glorious day, marred only by the jealousy of older generations as an 8-year-old shows him or herself to be much, much smarter than we are. Progress!

neurogaming conference 2013 image5

The day continued with a look at how neurological tools can help tell new stories in gaming. It’s still just theory at this point, but imagine a game mechanic that tells how anxious you are. If you are playing as a sniper, your level of comfort could affect how steady your aim is. On the other hand, you may be playing a horror game that knows to send the unkillable zombies after you at the precise moment that you calm down, just to show you who is boss.

The same technology is also going to help Olympians be more Olympic and to help train athletes of all levels. Nike will one day happily brand your skull with a device that tracks your physiological response to certain things. It can help increase your concentration and result in a better mental state all around. If you think Nike Fuelbands are everywhere now, just wait for a mainstream device that can help you track the power of your brain. Nike will be printing money.

That is the point of this conference – not for Nike to earn another billion, but for ideas to be shared and the future to be discussed. The day also contained a session about fundraising, and you may soon see more individuals and companies follow the path laid down by Palmer Luckey, the Oculus Rift creator who Kickstarted his way to becoming one of the hottest companies in gaming and tech today.

Neurogaming and neurotech are still in their infancy, which means there is a huge amount of room for those who are clever and driven. Being utterly brilliant helps too, but reality TV has proven that where there’s a will, there’s apparently also a way to make millions even without possessing a lick of creativity or talent. The future is there for the taking!

Check back with us for more coverage from the Neurogaming Conference this week and next.

(Images © NeuroGaming’s Flickr photostream)

Emerging Tech

Microsoft’s friendly new A.I wants to figure out what you want — before you ask

Move over Siri and Alexa! Microsoft wants to build a new type of virtual assistant that wants to be your friend. Already making waves in Asia, could this be the future of A.I. BFFs?
Digital Trends Live

DT Daily: Amazon HQ2(s), Indiegogo’s CEO, and Chris Bevans of Dyne

DT Daily's host Greg Nibler discussed headlines including Amazon's HQ2s and Twitter possibly getting an edit button. We also brought on the CEO of Indigogo and the creative director of Dyne.

The best HTC Vive games available today

So you’re considering an HTC Vive, but don't know which games to get? Our list of 25 of the best HTC Vive games will help you out, whether you're into rhythm-based gaming, interstellar dogfights, or something else entirely.

Everything we know about 'Anthem', including new details on Javelin classes

BioWare announced an upcoming action role-playing game called 'Anthem' at EA Play 2017. Here's everything we know about the game so far, including gameplay, DLC, and when you'll be able to play it.

The best Walmart Black Friday deals in 2018

Walmart has historically been the undisputed king of Black Friday deals. The mega-store is known for offering deals on products in almost every category, from smart TVs to children’s toys. We're combing through every deal as it is…

Want to game on your Chromebook? Here's where to start

Chromebooks aren't great for gaming, but there are a few titles that most machines can run. There's a surprisingly diverse crowd that includes role-playing games, action side-scrollers, and puzzlers.
Product Review

‘Let’s Go Pikachu’ and ‘Let’s Go Eevee’ feel like true ‘Pokémon Go’ RPGs

Pokémon: Let’s Go’s simplified reimagining of Pokémon Yellow has a great balance of old and new mechanics. It has a streamlined approach that makes it easy to get into, but depth remains for longtime fans.

Dominate in multiplayer with a few of our favorite 'Battlefield 5' weapons

Here are some of the best weapons you can use to get the upper hand in Battlefield 5's multiplayer, including assault rifles, sniper rifles, pistols, and anti-tank tools.

How to become a master assassin and perfect the art of execution in 'Hitman 2'

'Hitman 2' introduces new and improved story missions with a scale that can feel overwhelming if you're not prepared. Learn everything you need to know to obtain a high score while remaining unnoticed.
Digital Trends Live

Digital Trends Live: Nissan turmoil, product designer Jae Yoo of Nerf, and more

For today's episode of Digital Trends Live, we turn our attention to the L.A. Auto Show and Lamborghini's race-ready version of the Urus. We also speak with Jae Yoo of Nerf and MLS defender Zarek Valentin about their origins, modern tech…

The best Gamestop Black Friday deals in 2018

Gamestop is hosting one heck of a Black Friday and Cyber Monday promotion period, highlighted by excellent deals on games, gaming consoles, and gaming accessories. We combed through everything and have all the best Gamestop Black Friday…

The best cheap-but-awesome PlayStation 4 game deals under $20

The PlayStation 4 has hit its stride in recent years and is now more affordable than ever. If you have a PS4 or are thinking of buying one, we’ve collected some must-have games. The best part? Each of these is just $20 or less.

The best Target Black Friday deals for 2018

The mega-retailer opens its doors to the most competitive shoppers at 6 p.m. on Thursday, November 22, and signs indicate that the retailer means business this year. We've sifted through all of the deals, from consumer electronics to small…

Playing ‘Battlefield V’ on an $800 Nvidia card is stunning. And disappointing

‘Battlefield V’ is the first game to use Nvidia’s ray tracing support, now available with the RTX 2080 and 2080 Ti graphics cards. The feature can, in an ideal scenario, make the game look better, but the performance hit may not be…