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Gaming

Twitch Streamer plays Elden Ring using only her brain

Streamer Perrikaryal describes confirming her EEG.

Screenshot: Perrikaryal / Kotaku

When you tune in Twitch streamer Perrikaryal channelyou might see her playing FromSoftware’s epic role-playing game Elder Ring with fourteen unknown black sensors taped to her scalp. It’s her — as she said during an information stream earlier today — “just for fun” electroencephalogram (EEG) device, something researchers use to record the brain’s electrical activity, that she’s repurposed to help her let play Elder Ring hands free.

“Okay what and how”, publisher Bandai Namco responded to a clip of Perri (whose name seems to refer to the perikaryonthe cell body of a neuron) describing how she linked brain activity to key bindings to help her play the game, shared by esports reporter Jake Lucky on Twitter.

Cue the disbelief (“I got a lot of stuff online like, […] ‘are you for real?’” Perri says in that Twitter clip) and cries Ex Machine.

It looks incredible – in the clip you can see Perri just saying “attack” to her screen like a gamer girl Matilda and then, after a short delay, her Elder Ring character responds Casting Rock Sling with an irritated boss. But I spent my college days attaching eye-tracking devices to my friends’ heads while they helped me fill my lab requirements, and I know that while brain engineering can look complicated, some of it was still easy enough for me as a 19-year-old. So I reached out to my former classmate, the University of Michigan cognitive neuroscientist PhD student Cody Caofor his thoughts.

“EEG has really good temporal resolution,” he said, “meaning the collected neural response to game stimuli is only milliseconds. If the neural responses corresponding to available actions show vastly different neural patterns, algorithms can decode or differentiate after training what is what, then you play the game with EEG.”

But playing a game with your brain – something Elon Musk tried to shock the public with in 2021, when his brain-computer interface company released Neuralink a video of a monkey playing Pong using its technology does not give you any advantage.

“Decoding is still janky,” Cao told me, “60 to 70 percent accuracy is considered pretty good,” compared to 90 to 100 percent accuracy when performing an action manually (which also requires your brain!).

“A lot of algorithm training is required to achieve acceptable performance. They probably need to experience many different examples of the same thing (like Perri saying ‘attack’ before attacking) to explain the vast majority of attacks,” Cao continued. “It’s like FaceID on your iPhone. It gets better the more samples it sees.”

Perri also emphasized in her stream today that she does not necessarily innovate, but brings the possibilities of EEG use to the attention of the general public.

“It’s not that crazy, it’s very easy to do. And it’s done since 1988she said of gaming with her brain. “It’s not necessarily something new I’m doing, I’m just not sure if it’s very well known.” But now you know, and maybe you’ll figure out how to make me master a grilled cheese that won’t hurt my stomach.

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