GameScent Wants You to Smell the Gunfire While You Play Video Games

Burnt rubber and gunfire are not the most pleasing of smells, but for action games, they might be the most common. At least, that’s true for GameScent, a new device that aims to make gaming more immersive by adding smell to the equation.

GameScent, which dropped late last month to a bit of fanfare and some snickering, uses an adapter and an app on your phone to capture audio while you play. It then feeds those audio cues into the company’s “innovative AI,” which then triggers certain smells.

It’s a hexagonal device, compatible with most consoles, PCs, and virtual reality setups, built to hold six different aromas at a time. At launch, those smells are called gunfire, explosion, forest, storm, racing cars, and clean air—perhaps the most important, as it’s intended to neutralize whatever odors may linger.

“We feel like we are adding the missing link, if you will, to gaming, which is the use of olfaction,” says GameScent president Casey Bunce. Future scents the company intends to release include ocean, sports arena, and—perhaps troublingly—blood.

Bunce says that the device’s launch scents—which I’d argue are not the most aromatically pleasing lineup—were largely decided based on requests from gamers. They wanted smells to go along with action or horror games, thus all the explosions and gore.

Courtesy of GameScent

Those smells can be strong. During a demo of the GameScent at this week’s Game Developers Conference, the device, paired up with Far Cry 6, dutifully pumped out the smell of carnage and burning rubber. It’s set to a two-minute timer, meaning it won’t create a complete haze over your room every time you get into a gunfight—but it’s still better to place the unit far from your gaming perch, rather than sit near it. While its tamer options like forest are nice in a Febreeze sort of way, anyone sensitive to smell, like myself, might get a headache after a few whiffs of car stink.

GameScent’s creators say they hope to release an additional 30-40 scents in the coming year, making it easier for players to customize what they’d like their experience to smell like.

The company’s products are largely made of essential oils, which you can easily pick up at the store. When I asked what’s to stop me from dumping in, for example, my own lavender oils, a rep for GameScent told me “honestly, it would probably work. Look, you might end up clogging the thing and then you just take it out and flush it out with water.” To keep essential oil enthusiasts from using their own smells, the company plans to work with its community through an “insider’s club,” which will take feedback into account.

That being said, GameScent doesn’t plan to supply every user’s demand. “We get a lot of like—you know, X-rated requests,” Bunce says. “Very strange requests.”