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Uncanny behaviour in survival horror games

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Abstract:

This study investigates the relationship between the perceived strangeness of a virtual character and the perception of human likeness for some attributes of motion and sound. Participants (N=100) were asked to rate thirteen video clips of twelve different virtual characters and one human. The results indicate that attributes of motion and sound do exaggerate the uncanny phenomenon and how frightening that character is perceived to be. Strong correlations were identified for the perceived strangeness of a character with how human-like a character's voice sounded, how human-like the facial expression appeared and how synchronized the character's sound was with lip movement; characters rated as the least synchronized were perceived to be the most frightening. Based on the results of this study, this article seeks to define an initial set of hypotheses for the fear-evoking aspects of character facial rendering and vocalization in survival horror games that can be used by game designers seeking to increase the fear factor in the genre, and that will form the basis of further experiments, which, it is hoped, will lead to a conceptual framework for the uncanny.

Keywords: Uncanny Valley; audio-visual speech; characters; facial expression; horror games; realism

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1386/jgvw.2.1.3_1

Affiliations: University of Bolton.

Publication date: May 1, 2010

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  • The Journal of Gaming and Virtual Worlds focuses on theoretical and applied, empirical, critical, rhetorical, creative, economic and professional approaches to the study of electronic games across platforms and genres as well as ludic and serious online environments.
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