Valve’s Gabe Newell, looking and sounding a bit like Jerry Garcia, recently fielded questions from students who are learning to code. While the Google Hangout session was fairly standard fare for those familiar with the company’s m.o.—the internet upturning traditional economic models, the unorthodox work ethos of a freewheeling tech company, the one-off beard-stroke—there was an amazing nugget in the mix!
Halfway through, almost rambling to himself, Newell brought up some newfangled Neuromancer tech:
Our ability to talk directly to people's brains is getting better a lot faster and a lot sooner than I expected. There’s research going on right now to fully generate images inside of people's brains. . . It’s not just “Hey, cool, I’ve got a VGA connector on the back of my skull.” It opens up fairly science-fictiony abilities fairly soon in terms of the subjective experience you can create for people. It’s surprising that its happening at the rate that it currently is.
What bedevilment is this? As you know, Valve are mad tinkerers of the videogame industry, refining virtual reality, experimenting with perspiration to measure biometric feedback, magically combining gamepads and mice. But this brain-imagery projection device make us wonder what else Valve has up their sleeve. Will we be playing Half-Life 3 in our minds? How would that even work? We’d love to see a prototype.
Additional reporting by David Shimomura