The Depths of the Uncanny Valley

GameSpot investigates how video games really impact our lives--how they are changing our culture, what they're doing to our brains, and what this all means for people who play video games.

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By Carrie Gouskos- posted July 8, 2006

No Caption Providedou play video games, but do you have any idea how those video games are affecting you? They do, whether it's the subconscious way in which violence triggers chemicals in your brain, or your automatic repulsion at a game character that doesn't look quite human. With these ongoing reports, GameSpot will investigate how video games really impact our lives--how they are changing our culture, what they're doing to our brains, and what this all means for people who play video games.

Becoming uncanny

Image of the Uncanny Valley, courtesy of Karl MacDorman
Image of the Uncanny Valley, courtesy of Karl MacDorman

In 1970, roboticist Masahiro Mori published an article in the Japanese magazine Energy titled "Bukimi No Tani" (English translation: "The Uncanny Valley") detailing an observation that he had made from his experience working with humanlike robots. Mori noted that the more closely robots approximated human appearance and behavior, the more familiar they seemed to a human observer, until a point at which they resembled humans closely, but not perfectly. At this point, people would begin to react negatively to robots, citing feelings of eeriness or discomfort about their appearance. He called it "the uncanny valley," because of the way a graph depicting the correlation between familiarity and human likeness would dip suddenly and drastically, just before reaching perfect mimicry of the human appearance.

As technology improves and entertainment media such as movies and video games are able to more closely approximate realism, humanoid characters get dangerously close to what Mori described. For example, take a look at some of the most negative reviews that the motion picture The Polar Express received. The film attempted to create a highly realistic look through computer-generated imagery (CGI), but missed a few key points, such as the depiction of the characters' eyes and skin, which made them seem more doll-like than human, causing an involuntary repulsion among viewers.

So how does the uncanny valley work? Is it science? What are the factors that contribute to uncanniness--this unusual quality of realistic-looking characters that can seem so discomforting when we see them in action? Mori's observation may have opened up the discussion about this concept, but it left most of these questions unanswered. Only recently have scientists and roboticists begun to uncover the methodology and reasoning behind the uncanny valley, and in turn, how we can circumvent it.

Getting into the uncanny valley

"If you are interacting with an android and the timing of its speech and gestures is off, this will be uncanny for a different reason than if its eyes are too far apart." - Dr. Karl MacDorman, School of Informatics at Indiana University

Karl MacDorman is an associate professor in the human-computer interaction program at the School of Informatics at Indiana University and has been working with the uncanny valley hypothesis, using human participants, for the past year. In his own research on the subject, MacDorman has found scientific support for the hypothesis, which has revealed, among other things, that there are too many contributing factors for it to be narrowed down to a single theory. "If you are interacting with an android and the timing of its speech and gestures is off, this will be uncanny for a different reason than if its eyes are too far apart. This in turn is uncanny for a different reason than if part of its body is open, exposing wires and motors. I have identified about 10 possible causes for the uncanny valley, and I am sure there are many more."

The sheer number of factors and the precision of detail required to perfectly approximate humans makes the process seem extraordinarily daunting, though MacDorman believes that the most difficult of these problems is not in creating proportionately accurate humans, but in the timing and the interactivity of character movement: "I suspect the hard part will not be in finding the right physical proportions, but making the movements seem natural and well-timed, especially during interaction." This presents an extraordinarily poignant problem for video games, in which the player has control over the characters for the majority of the time. The characters must not only look realistic and animate accurately, but they must also react to control with perfect timing.

What makes this uncanny?

This character may look realistic, but there are many factors which make her also seem uncanny.
This character may look realistic, but there are many factors which make her also seem uncanny.

Of course, there are still plenty of problems within controlled situations. One such example of this can be seen in developer Quantic Dream's recent tech demo for its game Heavy Rain (working title), which has come under fire for uncanniness since it was first revealed at E3 2006. The trailer, which depicts an extremely realistic female character performing a monologue for the camera, is technologically impressive, yet many people have responded to it in a negative way, stating that there's something about it that is unsettling.

MacDorman lists several factors behind what makes the principal character of the video, Mary Smith, seem unnatural, although he recognizes that the video displays great technique nonetheless. "Presumably to enhance realism or reduce calculation, the game designers or animators exaggerate the depth of field, so that Mary's face is rendered in focus, but her hair and neck are out of focus and blurry. In addition, there is sometimes a lack of synchronization with her speech and lip movements, which is very disturbing to people. People 'hear' with their eyes as well as their ears. By this, I mean that if you play an identical sound while looking at a person's lips, the lip movements can cause you to hear the sound differently." He further cites her pale complexion and the fact that she behaves as a sociopath as reasons that most people will have trouble relating to her. "In general, sociopaths tend to seem odder than ordinary people--not only in their behavior, but in their facial asymmetries, which reflect developmental disorders--as anyone can tell by surfing Web sites that list photographs of known sexual offenders." This list of factors shows the breadth and depth of the uncanny valley problem, in that it goes far beyond what seems obvious (something like the lip synching) and into the more nuanced (the difference of the face structure of sociopaths).

"And as the animators make these characters more realistic, they have already become used to their less realistic predecessors. So they never get to look at their own creations with fresh eyes." - Dr. Karl MacDorman, School of Informatics at Indiana University

Posing an even deeper problem for developers, MacDorman believes that animators working from inception to completion will have difficulty witnessing uncanniness in their own projects. "They build up characters that start off looking not particularly realistic and, therefore, not particularly uncanny. And as the animators make these characters more realistic, they have already become used to their less realistic predecessors. So they never get to look at their own creations with fresh eyes. As artists, animators must always rely on their own sense of aesthetics. The problem is that they have lost what is 'common sense' to the rest of us." According to Elspeth Tory, the Animation Project Manager on Ubisoft's upcoming game Assassin's Creed, that's why it's absolutely critical that animators not work on their games in isolation. "You certainly start to get used to a character after a while and can occasionally lose a bit of the objectivity that you had at the beginning of the process. Getting feedback from others, especially the artistic director for animation, is an essential part of the pipeline in order to maintain a standard of believability."

Dealing with uncanniness

But it takes more than just feedback to get past the uncanny valley. Animators must deal with the phenomenon head-on, working to combat it from the beginning, not only by creating realistic-looking humans and animating them well, but also by making sure that the level of realism present is both believable and fun. Tory cites the uncanny valley as a hurdle in achieving realism with Assassin's Creed but distinguishes reality from believability, which is an equally if not more important goal. "Animating something that's believable gives you a bit of room for texturing a movement than simply making something that's realistic. A character that's realistic will seem to have ticked off a checklist of human characteristics, but a believable one will display nuances and subtleties that make them seem unique and alive." Tory notes that weight and timing are some of the most important aspects that contribute to a character's believability, and that hands are the most difficult part of the human body to animate.

Ubisoft animators aim for both believability and realism in games like Assassin's Creed.
Ubisoft animators aim for both believability and realism in games like Assassin's Creed.

Ubisoft has a good track record for believability, particularly with Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, which was critically lauded for its excellence in animation. Alex Drouin, the Animation Artistic Director on both Sands of Time and Assassin's Creed, reveals some of the tricks they used to achieve such a full range of fluid animations. "Everything was hand animated in Prince of Persia: Sands of Time. We used a lot of 'blending' of animations to get specific effects and a wider range of possibilities, and different kinds of interpolations to fluidly link different moves together. We used the same tools for Assassin's Creed but we added full body IK (inverse kinematics) and a rag doll tool." These tools helped the Ubisoft animators create a game that looked both believable and realistic, without getting bogged down in the kind of realism that would make the game unenjoyable. Focusing on believability helped them to achieve their animation goals with Sands of Time, and the result was a very attractive and well-animated game.

Out of the valley...for good?

"We've put a lot more animation files in the game... More than anything I've seen before." - Alex Drouin, Animation Artistic Director on Assassin's Creed

So how does the future of research and technology help to resolve the problems of the uncanny valley once and for all? MacDorman hope his research will lay the groundwork for combating the uncanny valley, by narrowing down all of the factors that contribute to it and giving us a better understanding of all of the nuances that control our perception of a realistic human. "We know that the human brain doesn't even register many kinds of gaps in visual information. We don't notice that we have a blind spot. We don't notice when we blink. We don't notice floaters, particles of dust moving on the cornea. There would be no point in filling in details that we don't notice. Therefore, we need to identify what we do notice, and to fix that part, and this may not so much require new technologies as an improved application of existing technologies." But having new technology will help developers to work with our limited knowledge of these factors in the short term. Drouin says that the increased power of the PlayStation 3 has helped them to create more diversity in the Assassin's Creed character animations, adding to the believability of the game. "We've put a lot more animation files in the game... More than anything I've seen before. Therefore, variety is going to help us re-create a living and breathing world because our eyes are not used to seeing patterns in real-life movements." It is the combination of these two factors, research and technology, that, when applied correctly, will begin to strip away the problem of the uncanny valley for good.

So where does this all leave us? With a lot of work to do, it seems, but MacDorman's view is optimistic. "It is something that can be overcome through good design. By manipulating the many factors that influence whether a robot or game character is familiar or eerie, we can design around the uncanny valley for any degree of human likeness. As we come to better understand the norms of human interaction, I believe our androids will overcome the uncanny valley." Developers are showing that they are able to work around the problems that the uncanny valley presents, but as games get more and more complex, there is always more work to do. Getting more involved with robotics research, using advanced technology better, and continuing to animate the details that we notice over those that we don't will all contribute to a positive future for video game animation. In the end, though, it seems as though they've got a good grasp of what really matters. Says Drouin: "So is our game completely realistic? NO WAY... It's realistically fun!"

Previously: Empathy and Conditioning Violence

What do you think?

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Merl57

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Edited By Merl57

Yeah I just think are brain acts in a way we can't understand and when even a human being looks a litte off we are very uncomfortable. If there was something with a humanoid shape but not human at all we are like ok big deal but if it is a human like shape with shark teeth or something of that nature chane one thing small we freak out.

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grouchomarxisim

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Edited By grouchomarxisim

Really interesting, though I would like to see a thread were we could discuse the difference between realism and verosimilitude, which I think is more important in a game.

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skillet27

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Edited By skillet27

if you like this kind of stuff i recommend the book "Everything bad is good for you" by. steven johnson

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stubby_01

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Edited By stubby_01

nice article... interesting stuff

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thefjk

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Edited By thefjk

Ok, that was scary... I never thought about stuff like this before... Nice article, makes you think about stuff!

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scott77777

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Edited By scott77777

The quirks in the animation in Heavy Rain were for the most part due to the incomplete nature of the game. The only reason the trailer is disturbing is because it was intended to be and constructed to be. It would not have been intriguing at all had it not been disturbing. Being disturbing and not just shocking is a trait of only the best horror/suspense games、such as the Silent Hill series.

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futs22

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Edited By futs22

The graph showed at the beginning of the article for me seems quite accurate in terms of how some people are quite enthralled when graphics or robots become more and more realistic to mimicking humans but when it comes to a point that the resemblance is near-perfect it becomes quite repulsive or unsettling. I think the negative feelings stem from fear since the limitations of computers and robots on being able to reproduce or replicate human action and behaviour is slowly reaching a point of near-identical or even identical quality to human action and behaviour. The consequences of being able to produce a video with comepletely rendered graphics of a human that looks perfectly realistic or creating a robot that looks, feels and acts like a perfectly normal human is truly disturbing. Why is it disturbing? I think with some imagination anyone can think of something dastardly to do with this kind of technology should technology reach that point wherein computers can render perfectly photo-realistic images of humans or when robots will have appearances perfectly identical to a normal human-being.

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ROBERTBOBBY91

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Edited By ROBERTBOBBY91

BS, i play games were u kill arabs and burn their corpses, kill people of a certain race, and kill everyone COUGH GTA COUGH but i am one of the nicest guys in the world, im not racist, and im not violent. so say wat u want, but im un effected.

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Goofball4Life

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Edited By Goofball4Life

I don't agree with the hypothesis, that incredibly realistic but slightly imperfect appearances are responded to negatively by a majority. The chart provided is highly unscientific and the "uncanny" listings aren't at all realistic: zombies, puppets, corpses. Perhaps there is another explanation for our revulsion to corpses and (nonexistant) living corpses, beyond their near-realism: how about our fear of death? Really, all this psychological nonsense is pure speculation and conjecture, utterly unscientific. Science doesn't need a variety of perspectives that demonstrably do not work.

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N0sferat_ninty

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Edited By N0sferat_ninty

I love this kind of Subject of Confusing matters when you think about reality,life and all that but...This doesn't mean that Dr.Kawashima's Brain Training is uncanny does it?Im still buying that game.But this is some interesting stuff.

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BlakeL

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Edited By BlakeL

Man, the first time I saw the Heavy Rain photos, I went into a tangent about how in the future people might not be able to understand the difference between computers and other people. I was so unsettles by the oddness of those pics. This makes sense to me, I'm glad to see I'm not the only one who feels this way.

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neocow5

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Edited By neocow5

It's not about whether we want realistic characters in our games or not, it's the amount of content it's going to take to make them look realistic (Many animations, for example). Ubisoft seems to be on the right track of getting out of the valley. Oh and Gamespot you're late. The Wiire had an article about this a while ago :P

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Myugenjin

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Edited By Myugenjin

Yeah just about every great game creator has played with the Uncanny Valley rules abit. An example is Splinter Cell. They used motion capture on all the characters in the game except for Sam Fisher, which were all hand animated. This gave Sam a much more fluid movement and gave us the "player" a since of supperiority over the AI characters of the game! Even recently (before E3) Hideo Kojima talked about how they could really push the PS3 to make Snake look real in MGS4. Yet they choose to use textures and shaders that still convey a videogame. Kojima claimed that making them to realistic would make the game "boring", I think he was mentioning the Uncanny Valley! This is what makes Heavy Rain so interesting/innovative, graphically it shoots for realism. As well as the intense dialogue that draws you in, it's not until she go's all psycho that people "subconsciously" begin to really dislike this game because it throws you a curve ball your mind was not expecting. (her sociopathic behavior doesn't match her symetrical face) If this were a real movie with a real actress it would get an Academy Award. But because it's a game that we know is not real our expectation change & like others here have said we begin to instinctivley FEAR & HATE what we see.

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BlueSunrise

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Edited By BlueSunrise

I don't really think there's that much of a difference between gamers and non-gamers when it comes to the uncanny valley; otherwise, Heavy Rain wouldn't have freaked us all out that much (after all, most everyone here - gamers - has posted that they felt unsettled after watching the video). Until very recently, games were never able to even approach the "uncanny valley", thanks to limits in processing power and computer chips. Now, with advances in modern technology, it's just that much closer. For a great example of the uncanny valley, watch these videos. Warning - this stuff is extremely creepy. Copy and paste: http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-423501194722329023&q=creepy+robot http://youtube.com/watch?v=diCVamLNnD4&search=creepy%20robot

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pohlkat

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Edited By pohlkat

That is why i found the chick from lost kingdoms (that card game from a while back) so incredibly disgusting. Wow, this totally explains alot, but does this mean that there's gonna be a whole lot of disgusting games for awhile while developers are still working on this?

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Cy_Gogetenks

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Edited By Cy_Gogetenks

Personally, i like the real looking characters to the shell shaded ones, don't get me wrong i like some shell shaded video games. I love cartoons aswell but i prefer realistic to shell shading. The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker for instance, it's got it's good things and bad, the bad is the shell shadiness of Link and the area he's in. The cartoon feel dwindled the look of the video game itself. However think about this one. What would happen if Hideo Kojima creator of the greatest title on Earth: Metal Gear Solid would decide "Oh we'll do the next MGS title in a cartoony feel and not use the realistic animations that we're used to!" That would kill the game right there, we're all used to seeing Solid Snake, Raiden, or Naked Snake (depending on the game you're playing) to look realistic. The realisticness is sometimes what makes the game great. However cartoony games like Conker, or a Looney Toons video game is also funny because it's not realistic, it's not using the basis of reality to control it's boundaries which then they can do whatever they wish and not make the game a piece of monkey poo. I think this new realistic feel they are taking with video games is the future, sure it's going to feel weird for a bit or maybe a long time. We start to experience fear with things we don't understand, sure we understand what androids are, or what video games are and some even know how video games are made, but what about androids, when they become a household thing how are we to know how they interact with us? Sure A.I. is out there but how does A.I. really work? And like the Matrix will it one day decide that enough is enough and try to attack us? The possibilities for the future is endless. It's evidently up to us to try and understand it. We are the future, each one of us. Tenks

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andrewglesener

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Edited By andrewglesener

"We are all living in a virtual world, the system we are running is incredibly advanced. What is reality anyway? The environment we live in could be defined as an emulation, interpreted only by our own primitive electrical impulses in our brain, which ironically are also simulated by the system we live in. This brings me to the point made about "The Sims" PC game...what will, for want of a better analogy, "The Sims 9000" be like? Will the software and hardware have evolved so drastically as to allow free-thought for the player characters? Would they then beleive that they are alive too? How long before they start to question their own reality...how many "realitys" are there behind us? How long did it take them to realise they were part of an emulation? How long did it take for them to make a system to emulate us?" Jesus, thats creepy...

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8th_pacifist

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Edited By 8th_pacifist

What unnerved me about that woman was that she was executing a guy for cheating on her more than anything else. I simply thought she was a step up for character design and facial animation, even if the lip synch was a little off. (Motion capture was used for her body by the way). Why "uncanny" is involved I don't know. Maybe they should write the next one about how this affects different people, rather than generalizing.

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smollett13

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Edited By smollett13

I agree with the yay sayers. This was a great article and I hope more articles like this start appearing. In my humble opinion, I generally get "uncanny" about a lot of realistic games. I usually prefer more comical looking characters, cell shaded, etc. I like cartoons, what can I say?

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seb835

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Edited By seb835

We are all living in a virtual world, the system we are running is incredibly advanced. What is reality anyway? The environment we live in could be defined as an emulation, interpreted only by our own primitive electrical impulses in our brain, which ironically are also simulated by the system we live in. This brings me to the point made about "The Sims" PC game...what will, for want of a better analogy, "The Sims 9000" be like? Will the software and hardware have evolved so drastically as to allow free-thought for the player characters? Would they then beleive that they are alive too? How long before they start to question their own reality...how many "realitys" are there behind us? How long did it take them to realise they were part of an emulation? How long did it take for them to make a system to emulate us?

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Link2legends

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Edited By Link2legends

You know what really sucks? My Sim in Sim2 thinks he is a real living, breathing person but he doesnt know that I am the one that controls his every move, if i wanted to I could turn him from a rich business man to a poor, loner. WAIT A SEC. does that mean that im typing this comment because someone is making me do it?................................................................................. Makes you think doesn't it? P.S. If I am really living in a fake world, then the graphics must be REALLY good.

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agienne

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Edited By agienne

It''s not often that I get to view a graph with "Zombie" as plot point. THANKS GAMESPOT!!

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BlackCatGod

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Edited By BlackCatGod

Everyone talks of reality so much. who can even tell we live in reality? Were really not real. We dont even exist... Nah, just pullin your leg. It was a great article, more power to you gamespot!

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cheung31

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Edited By cheung31

Love this series of Feature. This is definitely something that our minds analyze everytime we play games, even if it's subconsiously. Like the article mentions about animations, I also find that it is what makes or breaks a game's immersion. If there are enough animations and they are very fluent, you have got yourself a very immersive game and aren't questioning much, instead watching and just consuming it all. It builds up the game the way it should be without any frustrations. What I also find very interesting is how important these factors will be in game reviews when we hit next-gen PC titles such as Crysis. (Have you seen those human head renders?!) Looking foward to more from this series.

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yoshinatsu666

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Edited By yoshinatsu666

That's definitely true. But I think that perfection can become a reality with the right use of the existing technology and the overall power the PS3 offers, just as the article mentions.

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Flame_Blade88

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Edited By Flame_Blade88

Very interesting stuff right here.

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Killagorilla27

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Edited By Killagorilla27

This was a really interesting article because it's something I always think about when I play some of the newest games out there and see CG movies that try to look realistic. This was so true of The Spirits Within...the characters looked very realistic, but at the same time like undead creatures by the way their eyes and such looked. In Advent Children, the realism seemed to be toned down a slight notch, making everything really seem alive. I also found it interesting that I'm not the only person who thinks that f***ed up lipsynching can really take one out of the experience...Great article!

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Edited By pine_1045

How about the idea that when we watch anything animated such as the examples above, it is always framed in an object like a computer screen or a tv? There's a box around it. Take a large picture frame and hold it in front of someone talking to you. It's a completely different experience. We subconsciously define what we see and notice in borders. When you go into a museum, pay attention to the frames. People rarely do this but the border is such a large part of what we see. In this case, the border of what we're seeing making what we see non-human. We don't see people in this way. We rely on depth of field, object, and lines that pull us away. Has anyone (who has driven a real car for a number of years) played a driving game such as Grand Turismo and wondered why you think you do better if you were actually in the car? It's because you don't have that complete wrap-around of what you get when in a real car. (There's also the factor of the controller as well but that is a whole other post). So there is a LOT more to this than just design elements. The fact that it is confined denies our ability to accept the character as a real human. There is a lot more than just movement and imagery as this article states that pull us away from the character being "human." A videogame is a complex design of many elements attempting to work together as best as possible to deliver an objective to the player that the creators are attempting to get across. If that objective is realism then it's more than animation or textures. Part of it is the ability to read the emotion or thoughts of a character; it's our desire to know the character. All the elements that create a game have to work together to eliminate the Uncanny Valley. Since I have finished my MA in videogame studies, I have been looking for more researchers of the medium. I'm definitely gonna check this author out more.

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Edited By re-raid

wow.... theyre right, I never noticed but now I understand. I guess thats why 2d is more easily related to than 3d with some flaws.. for example in megaman battle nerwork 5 double team ds, the game world doesnt bother me at all but when looking at a 3d version of colonel in my pet, I noticed that something wasnt right about him.

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berylthranox

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Edited By berylthranox

personally i agree with what macdorman states. i have personally come upon robots in japan and parts of the U.S. that seem to have diminished senses. wires that are showing and slow movement or speech does somewhat disturb me. i have ,however, learned to accept that our own technologies will be our end. humanity will end when robots feel that we have become obsolete and are no longer an asset to them. if u have ever seen a facility where robots make robots you will indeed understand what i am trying to say. in a few games i have seen characters "speak" yet thier lips to not move. some characters seem to slur certain aspects of speech as if they had a lisp or other speech impairment. overall i think that robots need to have distinct features that show what they are.

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davidscorc

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Edited By davidscorc

I don't really think realism is important in video games. No matter how far we have gone in visuals, they will never "truly" replicate "real life".

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rockyking

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Edited By rockyking

wow yes i experiment that with prince of Persia i didn't like the the third serious graphic

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imdeanlabouty

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Edited By imdeanlabouty

I'm glad I'm not the only person was creeped out by that Heavy Rain thing. The edges of her mouth seemed weird, and as everyone else has said her lips just didn't sync. The tears don't help either. I've never seen anyone cry so much that they actually have multiple streams running down their cheeks.

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DataDroid

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Edited By DataDroid

I may not be a professional animator or a psychologist, but I can tell you exactly what's wrong with that "Mary Smith" character that makes her look unrealistic. First, I should mention that I don't experience the uncanny valley. I imagine this has something to do with the fact that I know the processes involved in animation, and rather than seeing a repulsive figure, I just see a less-than-well animated figure. Anyway, in the movie, there are several things that can be specifically pointed out for improvement: 1. As already mentioned, the lips. These guys should take a few lessons from the folks at Valve, who managed not only to do good lip synching, but do it procedurally with any vocal sound file you want to use. Part of the problem seems to be that there aren't enough animation points in the lips. 2. The hands, actually, are what bother me the most. Watch how your hands move sometime. Every time you move your wrists and arms, your fingers bend a bit. Very, very few video games, or even CG movies ever get this right. Also, the angle at which her wrists bend is all wrong, it doesn't look like a person's hand. 3. The skin. This is a rendering issue, not an animating one. So far, the only game I've seen to really do skin well is Crysis, and it's not even out yet, so I suppose this can be forgiven due to limits in the technology. There are a few other animation nitpicks, such as how her legs seem to slide, and her cheeks don't move nearly enough, but they aren't as bad as the others I mentioned.

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vegedus

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Edited By vegedus

Wow, that's was really interesting. Something struck me though. I began thinking about the final fantasy movies. The first one (spirits within) was more realistic, while advent children was less realistic, but just as believable (because an 8 year old kid could totally swing that sword). While I don't remember feeling "uncanny" when watching Spirits, this could have something to do with it's bombing. The girl from that trailer looks totally like the main character from Spirits.

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RaptoR_249

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Edited By RaptoR_249

Yea alot of the new movies in theatres come to mind.. some of them.. you can just slightly.. pick out the graphic flaws many show the movie had some enhancements added. and the people are not all out real from head to toe.

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simonbelmont2

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Edited By simonbelmont2

What an interesting observation... I will admit that I found the Heavy Rain demo slightly unsettling and I've been playing games for years. It will be interesting to see if developers can exploit this effect in the future. Us gamers have always known that the videogame medium is just as worthy of intelligent analysis and theoretical debate as Film, Art & Literature and its nice to know that we aren't the only ones.

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simonbelmont2

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Edited By simonbelmont2

What an interesting observation... I will admit that I found the Heavy Rain character slightly uncanny even though I've been playing games for years. It will be interesting to see if developers decide to take advantage of this effect. I am always glad to see that there are others who believe that the videogame phenomenon like art, film & literate is worthy of intelligent analysis and theoretical debate.

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klmillis

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Edited By klmillis

It's unbelieveable that some of the comments regarding this article show such little heart or thought. If you think the article was a waste of time, post somewhere else. It was obviously good enough to get you to read it. It's interesting to see how our minds interpret realities, and constructions therin.

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Aerosmithrandir

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Edited By Aerosmithrandir

I liked this article, thought it was really interesting. Though I didn't really feel that way about the clip when I watched it.

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tobleronian

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Edited By tobleronian

Its so true, in the quest to create more and more realistic characters they will eventually become quite disturbing when they get to a point so close to resembling human its almost hard to tell the difference, but there is something not quite right. They tried this with robotics in Japan, i think, and attempted to create a 'real' looking face with artificial muscles and everything. On completion it was the most realistic robotic representation of a human face ever, but looked so wrong it was scary. Strange how we can identify so well with a basic smily face and crude cartoons but something approaching complete realism is so disturbing. Watch out! the cylons are evolving! they look human! Some think they are human! :P

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iscariot83

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Edited By iscariot83

When did this feature start coming out? It's really interesting - this is the kind of gaming info and news I'm looking for. Gotta love the pink border too :)

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MrPMPisBeefy

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Edited By MrPMPisBeefy

Interesting article. It helps shine some light as to where the industry is going, why its going there and how people will react as already lifelike games become even more lifelike.

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darkfox101

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Edited By darkfox101

foolish humans! i plan to kill you allllllllllllllll

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isaaru2020

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Edited By isaaru2020

really

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AA7

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Edited By AA7

"Woooooshshs" That one just flew over my head.

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LifelessBoy

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Edited By LifelessBoy

I think that they shouldnt perfect the uncanny valley problem since the brain will stop telling real from fake and video games will affect people a lot more

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lucasmori

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Edited By lucasmori

Nice work. Good to read something about that familiar "weird" felling we got sometimes when looking to some "intended to be human like" characters.

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Kyraal

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Edited By Kyraal

joey2day, I wouldn't compare dubbing an English movie to e.g. German or French, to the native voices being out of sync. It's a complately different deal here, and we accept this because we know it's supposed to be like that, whereas a voice being slightly out of sync can be really bothering, when you know it's not supposed to be like this. Edit: spelling.

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exaggeration17a

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Edited By exaggeration17a

I definitely agree with some of what's already been said on this topic. Benny_is_here mentioned that the uncanny valley is probably more of an issue when dealing with non-gamers, and I know that's true in my experience. My fianceé is quite sensitive to voice being out of sync with lip movements, even in something simple like a TV commercial, and while it always distracts her, it never bothers me to the same degree. In the Heavy Rain example, I just looked at the character and thought, "meh, she looks kind of like a mannequin." My significant other, however, looked at her and thought she was creepy/ugly. I also think that the 'uncanniness' of game characters can be a good thing, like thesinginlucas mentioned. In the article, the professor said that Mary Smith looks like a sociopath. I responded to that by thinking, "maybe she is." Even if this unnerving feeling wasn't the game designers' intent though, wouldn't this sort of thing be a great tool to use in a game like Silent Hill or Eternal Darkness? I'm not usually an optimist, but maybe game companies should be looking at the 'problem' of the uncanny valley as an opportunity in disguise.

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