Gabe Newell is talking about brain-computer interfaces and meat peripherals

The technology looks to take VR headsets to a whole new level.


Gabe Newell, the President of Valve Corporation, hasn’t just been relaxing in New Zealand these past few months, he’s apparently also been thinking about brain-computer interfaces. To Newell, humans’ eyes and ears are just “meat peripherals” that will be used to parse brain data to video games.

Reported on by TVNZ, in an interview with 1 News, Gabe Newell discussed brain computer interfaces or BCIs for short. According to Newell, Valve is currently working to put BCIs to good use in video games via an open-source software project. This project will allow developers to use VR headsets to start analyzing, and hopefully interpreting, the signals bouncing around a user’s brain.

OpenBCI Galea
Valve is currently working with OpenBCI Galea on brain-computer interfaces.

Newell seems to think that BCIs are the next great step in video game technology, so much so that he says, “If you're a software developer in 2022 who doesn't have one of these in your test lab, you're making a silly mistake,” in regards to OpenBCI headsets.

Valve already has one of the more advanced VR headsets on the market with its Valve Index and 2020's GOTY Half-Life Alyx shows off the technology perfectly. If the headset was also able to also interpret the signals in a player’s brain, Newell purports that it could be used to alter the experience of games on-the-fly.

The interview continues, and gets a bit dystopian, as Newell suggests BCIs might not only be able to read brain signals, but change how a person feels. This is certainly a slippery slope from an ethical and moral perspective.

However, Newell makes an interesting point about human eyes and what we perceive to be “realistic” visuals:

"You're used to experiencing the world through eyes, but eyes were created by this low-cost bidder that didn't care about failure rates and RMAs, and if it got broken there was no way to repair anything effectively, which totally makes sense from an evolutionary perspective, but is not at all reflective of consumer preferences.

So the visual experience, the visual fidelity we'll be able to create — the real world will stop being the metric that we apply to the best possible visual fidelity.

The real world will seem flat, colourless, blurry compared to the experiences you'll be able to create in people's brains."

Given that Valve is currently working on new games, and the rate at which Newell says they’re learning about BCIs, we could very well see a future where Valve delivers a new game with some form of brain-computer connectivity.

Guides Editor

Hailing from the land down under, Sam Chandler brings a bit of the southern hemisphere flair to his work. After bouncing round a few universities, securing a bachelor degree, and entering the video game industry, he's found his new family here at Shacknews as a Guides Editor. There's nothing he loves more than crafting a guide that will help someone. If you need help with a guide, or notice something not quite right, you can Tweet him: @SamuelChandler 

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