Video game designers are seeking to better understand the emotional responses of gamers in a bid to drive greater empathy and combat the ‘desensitising’ effect of obsessive use.

Designers at Abertay University in Dundee are researching a range of emotional cues in video games in order to reflect real-world scenarios and better connect gamers to the decisions they make.

Although there is little evidence connecting violence in games to real-world tragedies, designers have long been under pressure to make the consequences of in-game actions more apparent to the user.

Biometric scanning technologies such as facial recognition sweat detectors on joypads are to be deployed in conjunction with anthropology to make characters respond directly to players’ emotions.

Games are also being designed in the virtual realm to connect gamers with the real world, by offering greater insight into tragedies such as poverty, drone warfare and mass shootings.

According to a report in today’s Times Scotland, the research also has potential for security services to identify gamers who exhibit unusual emotional behaviour during game-play.

The research came to light last week as part of the international Game-On conference, which was hosted at the university, welcoming delegates from countries including Russia, Spain, Netherlands, Italy, USA, Czech Republic, UAE, Portugal, Finland, Japan and Australia.

Dr David King, co-organiser of the event, told The Times: “The ideal character is one that you can become emotionally invested in and where you feel remorse when something bad happens to them.”

The conference follows the announcement of new multi-million pound Innovation for Games and Media Enterprise (InGAME) project, which will be based in Dundee and led by Abertay, providing research and development opportunities for UK studios.

Artificial intelligence, security in online gaming and games for health and education were some of the key themes on the agenda for Game-On 2018.

Abertay University is ranked number one in Europe for undergraduate computer games education and within the top dozen in the world at postgraduate level (Princeton Review).

Read the full report here [PAYWALL].