Sunday, 12 May 2013

The Uncanny Valley

While doing some research for my contextual studies essay, I had a look into how aesthetic can affect immersion in game and stumbled across this video:

The uncanny valley is the idea that if you give clearly non-human characters human characteristics, they're seen as charming or endearing. However, if it is given too many human characteristics, it is seen as a twisted copy of a human being that is unsettling or ugly. This unsettling version of a non-human trying to appear human, is the uncanny valley. Clearly non-human characters with human characteristics make those human qualities stand out whereas simulating an imperfect human makes their non-human characteristics stand out.

The two sides of the valley are style and photo-realism. Unfortunately, in games, we've yet to achieve true photo-realism and this makes the flaws much more glaring. Having stylised games opens the game up to more artistic variety but still has some pitfalls. The video explains it much better.

How might this affect my MA? I much prefer exploring styles in games but that's not to say I don't like photo-realistic games. I find it much more fun and appealing exploring styles and themes artistically. After coming to the conclusion that aesthetics alone don't affect immersion in games, I think it'd be beneficial for me to focus on style exploration.

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