Exploring How Avatar Control Erodes the Uncanny Valley

By Charmaine Farber.

Published by The International Journal of Technology, Knowledge and Society

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

The effects of the Uncanny Valley Theory, created by roboticist Masahiro Mori, seems to apply to contemporary movie animation but not always in situations of realistic animated interaction design, such as realistic game environments with controllable avatars. The Uncanny Valley Theory, written in 1970, measures a person’s comfort level with a robot that displays human-like visual qualities, sounds, and movements. His theory directly correlates with how people perceive computer generated humans on screen in movies (Mori 1970). Generally speaking, people feel more familiar with a robot, or animation, that acts like a human but does not look very human. In essence, the Theory examines how humans dislike images, animations, and robots that seem almost human, but not human enough—invoking emotions such as fear and repulsion—specifically with certain facial gestures and certain parts of the face exhibiting more eeriness than other. I hypothesize another way of thinking of the effects of the Uncanny Valley Theory as it relates to game-play by exploring the roles of “sense of presence,” flow and narrative when judging a game-experience where the uncanny features of an avatar or character may be diminished by game immersion.

Keywords: Gaming, Avatar Hypothesis, Uncanny Valley, Virtual Reality

The International Journal of Technology, Knowledge and Society, Volume 13, Issue 2, June 2017, pp.25-37. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 785.448KB).

Charmaine Farber

Assistant Professor of Graphic Communication and Creative Director for the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, California, USA