How Happy Are We While Playing Video Games?

To measure emotions while playing, a software developer programs a webcam to record his facial expressions and then graphs them.

Dale Lane has created a scientific way to measure facial expressions in order to quantify emotions while playing video games. Lane programmed the webcam under his TV to snap a photo of his face every 15 seconds while he is playing a game or watching TV. The pictures are then all sent to the face.com API. The API calculates information on the images, including a short Python script that basically graphs his facial expressions throughout the game. The graph below shows Lane’s expression while playing Blur – a car racing game.

Lane has run his experiments with a variety of games and TV shows including Modern Warfare 3 and ‘The Daily Show.’ While the method is not entirely foolproof — the webcam’s low-resolution sometimes fails to capture the correct facial expression — it is an interesting way of easily quantifying how happy, angry, or sad we are when playing our favorite games.

Dale Lane

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