Have you ever wished you could play a game by mind alone? No mouse. No joystick. No keyboard. Just think, and the game would respond. Once upon a time, I did that.

A little over ten years ago, there was a company called “The Other 90% Technologies”. They had a product named MindDrive. It was a device that hooked up to your computer at one end, and had a sensor strap at the other.

It was a small strap, because all you had to do was place one finger – usually the index finger – in the sensor. It read the muscle impulses and translated them into action in the game. Did it work? Absolutely.

The first game was MindSkier. It had first-person view, and you went schussing down a mountainside, simulating a slalom run. I can tell you, it was really strange, sitting there, not moving my body at all, and yet the game was reacting to whether I thought, just thought, of going left or right.

That wasn’t all so easy, though. My problem was anticipation. Even as I was approaching one gate, I was already looking ahead to the next. That caused conflicting impulses, and I often ended up skiing into the crowd on the sidelines (Note: no virtual persons were harmed during the making of this debacle).

The game I really wanted to play was – no surprise – pinball. And this is where we come to what was probably the death knell for MindDrive. Setting it up was a nightmare.

You installed from Windows, but played from DOS (if you were in Windows, you had to exit). The device had to be connected to a free com port. I didn’t have one, so it was necessary to disconnect the mouse. Of course, the MindDrive was configured to work with a mouse.

For MindSkier, that wasn’t much of a problem, but I could never get the pinball game to work. Supposedly, you could use the keyboard for menu navigation if no mouse was present, but I had no luck there. And believe me, I tried.

This was a perfect example of a good idea ruined by terrible implementation. And over the years since then, I’ve wondered why no one else picked up on this technology, and improved it.

The possibilities for people with physical handicaps alone would have made it worthwhile, and not just for playing games. And I don’t know if every type of game would be open to this sort of control, but we could easily see this in, say, a racing game, and perhaps shooters.

But perhaps the time for that has already passed. Could such a device, properly updated, catch on in the mass market? Or are gamers too used to the twitchiness of mouse and joystick to give that up for simply sitting still and thinking?

Especially now, with the advent of the Wii – which got me (ahem) thinking about MindDrive in the first place – we seem to be heading towards more movement instead of less. And yet, who knows? Maybe there’s a market among the older gamers, who wouldn’t mind playing a shooter, if all they had to do was sit and think. Hmmm….miniscorp