Yes, it’s April 1, but no, this isn’t an April Fool’s joke. Did you think it was? Maybe that does make this an April Fool’s joke in its own way, then. Regardless, the point is: this is true. Gabe Newell, co-founder and CEO of Valve, the big daddy of PC gaming himself, recently hinted at the likelihood of some “terrifying” announcements regarding computer games… and our brains.
In an interview in Edge #344, Gabe says the thing he’s “always thinking about and working on, separate from being pulled by teams into something that they’d like my help on, is brain-computer interfaces”. He says he thinks these brain-computer interfaces are “coming way faster than people realise” and “there’ll be some really interesting announcements that happen this year”.
Brain-computer interfaces create a direct pathway between your brain and an external device. This is most commonly done through Electroencephalography (EEG), a method of recording brain activity via electrodes on the scalp. Real Minority Report submerge tank stuff, in other words. By doing this, the idea is that you can directly control an external device by thought alone (or, rather, by brain activity – but ‘by thought’ sounds cooler).
Doesn’t sound too zany yet, right? Well, Gabe doesn’t think it’ll end there. He says that “it’ll be full read/write to your brain” and that “a lot of people are going to want entertainment experiences that work by directly reading and writing from areas of your brain”. So, in other words, not only will you be able to use your brain itself like a keyboard to control aspects of a game, but you’ll also be able to have the game write assets to your brain.
If that doesn’t raise some Minority Report-esque dilemmas then I don’t know what would.
As crazy as it sounds, if there’s any man that can push this tech forwards it’s probably Valve titan Gabe Newell. Indeed, Gabe says he’s “the only person in the company who can go off and think about brain-computer interfaces, because if somebody else did, they’d all just laugh at them and say, ‘Why are you wasting your time on that science fiction?’ But with me it’s like, well, I was right about Steam, I was right about the connected economy! And then they get to say back: ‘Yeah, and you did Steam Machines too’”.