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Hirai wants games to harness emotions

Sony boss discusses "unrealised potential".

Games have yet to capture players' emotional responses, Sony Computer Entertainment boss Kaz Hirai said today during a Tokyo Game Show keynote session in which he summarised the PlayStation platform holder's current strategic thinking.

"Emotional input is still not fully developed... I think the games industry can still develop even more. One of its unique characteristics is that as technology develops, the way you express things, the number of colours on the palette increases as technology develops," Hirai said in a managed Q&A session at the end of his speech, which we covered live.

Hirai suggested that games could conceivably measure your "heartbeat or body temperature or sweat" but "it's not realistic to have sensors all over your body", perhaps suggesting that he has one eye on Nintendo's vitality sensor, which is due to launch in 2010, or at least is thinking along similar lines.

"The basic idea is to express emotion," said Hirai. "I've always felt that when you're enjoying games, there may be a buildup of excitement or sadness or joy... But it's not possible to reflect your emotions into the game... I think we haven't really realised the potential yet."

The 'e' word has been prevalent in Sony's thinking since the dawn of PlayStation 2 with its infamous "Emotion Engine", and while Hirai only became SCE president two years ago, his comments today and history at the company suggest shared thinking with his predecessors, including the immutable Ken Kutaragi - not least in Sony's huge support for the ambition Heavy Rain, for which eliciting an emotional response is the driving goal.

Elsewhere in his speech, Hirai spoke of the "age of the network", but despite mentioning the PS3 wand controller and 3D TV technologies in passing, the speech was otherwise devoid of announcements. Check out our live coverage to see what was said.

(Update: Announcements subsequently materialised in a second press conference where Gran Turismo 5 was dated and Resident Evil 5 support for the PS3 magic wand was demoed.)