Breathalising Games: Understanding the Potential of Breath Control in Game Interfaces (ACE 2011)

by Paul Tennent, Duncan Rowland, Joe Marshall, Stefan Rennick Egglestone, Alexander Harrison, Zachary Jaime, Brendan Walker, Steve Benford.

Paul Tennent, Duncan Rowland and a few of us put together this paper (PDF) for ACM Advances in Computer Entertainment 2011 (ACE 2011). The paper is based on a selection of breath based games that we have worked on, using the gas mask breathing interface.

These games are (read the paper for more details obviously):

Serious Sam Aim Control – A modification to the first person shooter Serious Sam which makes aiming of the gun be perturbed by breathing, meaning that to shoot straight, you have to time breathing with shots, or hold your breath.

Hyperventilation Sports – a twist on the early joystick based computer sports games that required frantic joystick waggling to go fast. In Hyperventilation Sports, you have to breathe as quickly as possible, whilst trying not to overdo it and have to stop. This plays on the physical limitations of breathing, and flirts with the danger of hyperventilation (although games are deliberately short enough to avoid any real danger).

PerPing – a two player breathing controlled tennis game – breathe in to move the bat up, breathe out to move it down, hyperventilate to split the ball in two. Miss the ball and your opponent scores a point. PerPing was run for a large audience at Cheltenham Science Festival (read more about Cheltenham).

Sneak-em-up Players have to sneak past guards without alerting them to their presence. If a player is breathing more heavily, the guards can hear them from further away. This creates a game mechanic where people must strategically hold their breath to pass guards.

Tunnel Run is a game for two players. One player’s breathing controls the shape of a tunnel shown on the screen. The second player’s breathing controls the flying of a plane going through the tunnel. The first player must try and make the tunnel as hard to fly through as possible, whilst the second player tries to fly for as long as they can. Players take turns creating the tunnel and flying through it, and are scored based on how long they can fly safely for.