There are a number of popular computer games that take place in forbidding environments—in a blizzard atop a snowy beak, or inside a volcanic caldera.
However, there is no way of conveying the real feeling of temperature to the player. In a game like Skyrim, the player will be no worse for the wear even after blithely trudge through a blizzard for hours wearing only the medieval equivalent of a T-shirt.
Fig 1: Some kind of cold place with both penguins and igloos. Maybe a zoo in the arctic. Geographically questionable. Immersion: ruined!!!
Fig 2: Volcanic Caldera. Still a comfortable temperature at the desk, however! Immersion: ruined!!!
Games could have an interface to an array of different environment-affecting appliances. For example: a fan, an air conditioner, a space heater, and one of those supermarket mist-ers for keeping vegetables fresh.
When playing a game and wandering about on an icy mountain peak, the air conditioner and fan could both be going full blast, prompting the player to find shelter inside a tavern with a roaring fire (which would engage the space heater).
Perhaps in games with a protagonist who can swim, the supermarket mist-er could continually spray on the player while they were in the water. Realism!
A list of currently available modalities of feedback:
* Visual effects (e.g., a monitor, VR glasses)
* Shaking / rumble (via a rumble-enabled controller)
Rare ones that already exist:
* Pain via electric shock (as seen in the dubious “PainStation” invention: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PainStation)
* Orientation / tilt (for professional flight simulators)
Suggested additional features that could be accomplished cheaply:
* Wind (a fan)
* Cold (an air conditioner / Peltier cooler)
* Heat (a space heater / Peltier heater)
* The Unbearably Bright Desert Sun (LED lights / photography lights)
* Water (a supermarket vegetable mist-er)
Fig 3: A set of fans could be used to give the impression of motion, as well.
It might be possible to just integrate temperature control into the controller using the Peltier heating/cooling effect. Or perhaps a vest that the player could wear, so as to provide a more complete experience.
Fig 4: Maybe the mouse could be heated / cooled for a faster-to-heat-up/cool-down and more cost-efficient system? That is supposed to be a mouse, by the way.
There is a possibility that sufficiently determined players might actually freeze to death while playing games, but natural selection should solve this problem within a few hundred generations.
A partial list of moddable games in which the temperature of the environment could be an important factor:
A simple version of this concept could be implemented with a mod plus a USB-controlled power strip.
Fig 5: Just plug this space heater into your USB-controlled power strip, and you can have it cook you whenever the computer commands it.
PROS: Would add a new immersive element to the multimedia experience, the likes of which have not been seen since the demise of “Smell-o-vision” in 1960.
CONS: As you might expect, there are none!