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Twitch streamer plays Palworld using only her mind

Streamer Perrikaryal uses an electroencephalogram device to play games

The playable character of Palworld standing in front of a pure quartz node in the snow. Image: Pocketpair via Johnny Yu
Nicole Carpenter is a senior reporter specializing in investigative features about labor issues in the game industry, as well as the business and culture of games.

Twitch streamer Perrikaryal is using her mind to play survival creature-catching game Palworld. Using a totally hands-free setup, Perrikaryal is crafting, fighting, jumping, and catching Pals only using her brain, set up to a electroencephalogram (EEG) device. She uses four commands with mind control, several voice commands to fill in the gaps, and gyro- and eye-tracking for movement.

It’s something Perrikaryal has done before with Fortnite, Elden Ring, Halo Infinite, Fall Guys, and several other games, but Palword uses the most mind controls thus far, she said on stream. Perrikaryal uses special devices and programs to “attach” the mind control visualizations and feelings to in-game commands — for instance, she imagines a cricket jumping to make her character jump or thinks about the heat and muscle contractions associated to anger for crafting. She “trains” these visualizations to tie them to the command several times, then jumps into Palworld to test it out. And it works, because it recognizes brain-wave patterns that she’s tied to certain controls.

“When you’re thinking about different things your pattern of brain activity (the frequency of brain waves, how much there is, and where roughly they’re coming from) is different,” Perrikaryal told Polygon. “Using a brain-computer interface, I can train (via machine learning) the software to recognise what particular patterns of brain activity look like. These are mental commands.”

It’s really stunning to watch in action, and almost hard to comprehend how the practice even works. But if there’s anyone who can, that’s Perrikaryal, who has a masters in psychology and beat Elden Ring’s Malenia — one of the hardest bosses of the notoriously hard game — with her mind control technology. For Elden Ring, she uses a controller to move, but uses the same concepts as with Palworld gameplay to play Elden Ring, i.e., imagining different things, like pushing a boulder, to attack. It took a lot of work — like hundreds of deaths — to beat Malenia. But she did it.

“For example, when I imagine pushing something heavy forward, that pattern of brain activity is recorded and remembered,” Perrikaryal said. “This is 1 of my 4 Palworld mental commands. My other 3 mental commands that I use for Palworld are: imagining spinning a plate to the tune of ‘You Spin Me Right Round’; imagining being really angry, hot in the face, and my whole body clenching up; and imagining a little grasshopper hopping erratically while I do tiny micro muscle ear movements.”

Perrikaryal’s Palworld goal was much simpler: Just to catch a Pal. But she’s only just begun that journey, and there’s a lot more that she’s likely to accomplish. For a game like Elden Ring, she spent a considerable amount of time training the EEG to recognize the patterns associated with whatever she’s imagining, and that process is just beginning for Palworld. Though the goal was first relatively simple, Perrikaryal said Palworld is tricky to control using her mind because there’s so much UI navigation. The voice commands, gyro-, and eye-tracking help with that.

But even with limited training, it already works — and is unbelievably cool.

“This is the most advanced my controller has ever been and so it feels amazing to be able to play nearly the entirety of the game with just mind control,” Perrikaryal said. “There’ll be moments I’ll be playing for 10s of minutes without saying a word, every action performed just in my head, with my imagination. Compared to Elden Ring, there’s a lot more I can do with the controller, and many more challenges with different styles of control. Trackmania is still one of the most intuitive games to mind control that I’ve tried (imagining going left and right to go left and/or right) but Palworld is definitely up there in enjoyment.”

Update: This story has been updating to include quotes from Perrikaryal.

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