The candidate will have to “research compelling new hardware technologies”
Valve have put out a job listing for a psychologist to join their team in Washington State. The candidate will be involved with the development of new games and the maintenance of Steam.
Known best for the Half-Life and Portal series, alongside Counter-Strike: Global Offensive and Team Fortress 2, Valve are no stranger to using psychological research in their development.
The studio have been involved with a wide range of experiments over the years. Creating a version of Portal 2 that relied on visual control, Valve once believed the future was in games you could control with your eyes – as they moved faster than hands.
“We hire people with broad skill sets who also exhibit deep expertise,” the listing reads. “Psychologists at Valve contribute to a wide variety of initiatives across the company and are trusted to prioritize their work in collaboration with their peers.”
Valve have also conducted experiments into sweat and levels of arousal when playing games, to improve the emotional connection players have with their storylines. The studio refer to this as the study of ‘biofeedback’, and it seems they are on the cusp of some new ideas given this new hire.
Mike Ambinder, an experimental psychologist working with Valve, said to Venture Beat: “One thing we are very interested in is the notion of biofeedback and how it can be applied to game design,” he said. “There is potential on both sides of the equation, both for using physiological signals to quantify an emotional state while people are playing the game.
The more interesting side of the equation is what you can do when you incorporate physiological signals into the gameplay itself.”
Valve’s latest VR offering, Half-Life: Alyx was included in Steam’s top downloaded games of 2020, and won GameSpot’s Game of the Year in the same year.