Evolution of interactive computer graphics and the expression of emotion on art

For a long time computer graphics have been evolving, from the simple monochromatic graphics of Pong to the iconic art of the 8-bit generation, all the way through to today’s three-dimensional graphics of High Profile video games.

However until recently the ability to convey emotion, feelings and believable acting through this medium was if not impossible it was certainly challenging. Efforts range from good to incredibly bad. The following example was for a long time considered one of the most emotive moments in video games the death of Aeris in Final Fantasy VII.

While I will not attempt to analyze the cinematographic value of this cutscene, I will point out that the way emotion is conveyed is through a small grin and some blinking eyes which make it hard to feel truly connected to the characters when they look like cardboard tube dolls. However as we have moved forward we are starting to see truly touching scenes where technology is no longer in the way. Examples such as Half-Life 2, Uncharted and Mass Effect have brought us closer to seeing the anguish and desperation of the characters, see them cry, be startled and feel pain and loss.

However now we are truly reaching that point where the character feels real regardless of how stylized or photorealistic a character is. In Quantic Dream’s Kara, a short tech demo of their digital actors, we can see a digital character modeled after the actress Valorie Currie express a range of emotions rangin from neutral to happiness to fear and anger and be believable in expressing them not only through her face but all the subtle motions of a human body.

As we can see in this video, not only is narrative taking a marked improvement over earlier efforts, but the ability to make us feel for a character, empathize and in the end identify with them is finally reaching us. The implications are staggering. Creating digital actors to take us through interactive tours of historical sites and battles is now a possibility and museums should take notice of this growing art, both as a subject worthy of collection as film is but as a tool to connect to new generations and attract newer demographic groups.

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3 thoughts on “Evolution of interactive computer graphics and the expression of emotion on art

  1. Zaphodb2002 says:

    This was an interesting read. Technology certainly does drive the capabilities of storytelling, acting, and generally conveying emotion in this medium. That Kara demo is stunning, and it’ll be amazing to see what happens in the future.

    • RGC says:

      it certainly benefits the sense of immersion, there’s also a non verified concept called the uncanny valley that states that the closer we get to a digital human, the faker it looks to us. It seems we are getting closer to overcoming this valley.

      • Zaphodb2002 says:

        I’m familiar with the concept. Polar Express comes to mind, lol. A lot of games use stylized art design to avoid it, I’ve always thought it was interesting that you can make people more psychologically accepting of a character by making them LESS human. You’re right though, we’re getting closer and closer to being able to accurately recreate the human body and it’s mannerisms. The little movements in the eyes in that Kara demo are extremely believable.

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