Metafocus: Preventing the Uncanny Valley in VR & Serious Games


In 1970, Tokyo Institute of Technology robotics professor Masahiro Mori initially wrote about the valley, describing robots which look not quite like individuals induce a feeling of revulsion instead of increased affinity. In other words, human-like robots creep us out. Since that time, we’ve discovered the uncanny valley concept also applies to animated movies, video games, video games, virtual reality (VR) adventures, along with most other websites that visually depict people. Thus, if you are making an eLearning adventure that portrays people utilizing 2D or even 360-degree video, video games, VR, AR, or any other visual medium, then you need to understand the uncanny valley, also you require a strategy for preventing its creepiness from seeping in your adventure.
What’s the valley?
In his post, Mori included a chart similar to Figure 1.

The uncanny valley

This chart indicates that realism is great up to a point. When a rendering of a person is highly realistic, the number of non-human aspects (e.g., plastic-seeming skin, unreal facial expressions(abnormal motions) stand out. Viewers tend to concentrate on those facets. If the representation isn’t quite real enough, then it can be jarring, unsettling, or even repulsive. Disney and Pixar understand this concept well, which is why their characters are not photorealistic but often lovable, like the characters in Up or the toys from Toy Story. In contrast, the characters from the movie The Polar Express creeped out children and movie critics.
Photorealistic vs. stylized cartoon
The dip near the right side of this curve reflects the valley. We’ve got two options, to avoid the valley from our experiences that are revived:
Create photorealistic animation and proceed into the far right side of this chart.
Use animation and remain safely on the side of this chart.
Unfortunately, creating animation isn’t realistic for professionals. The technology does exist to create more or less photorealistic animated movies and video games. This is why some people have claimed a bit the uncanny valley problem has finally been solved, as videos and some animated games are definitely realistic-looking. However, the movie and game studios which have disputably “solved” this problem have effectively infinite budgets and large, extremely talented teams of animation artists and developers. A few smaller indie game studios are also making inroads toward quick and cheap photorealistic animation, however, the cost, time, and ability required are still significant. So unless you intend to devote years and countless dollars making a single eLearning experience that is photorealistic animation is a much better choice.
People will not creep out, although stylized animation may not resonate with viewers quite as much as ones. They’re also a lot quicker, more economical, and simpler to make. Further animation presents infinite possibilities.

ELearning experiences don’t need to be hyper-realistic. The point isn’t to impress and entertain; it is to teach and instruct knowledge and skills. For these reasons, stylized animation is a better choice for eLearning experiences.
Overexaggerated vs. minimalist utilization
Generally, there are two Kinds of stylization that will allow you to Prevent the valley:
Over-exaggerated stylizations (e.g., The movie, The Nightmare Before Christmas movie, Sonic the Hedgehog video game collection)

Stylization is more difficult and requires artists. The secret is to produce. You can view video games (on Twitch) and animated movies for inspiration, and you can even search and download distinct character designs from sport engine asset libraries like the Unity Store.
In contrast animation may be helpful for training games since they are cheap and quick to construct. Minimalist animation is not very believable, and it is harder for viewers to connect with the experience along with the characters. For other interactive or immersive games and adventures and VR, you will likely wish to utilize stylized animation that is over-exaggerated.

Approaches for avoiding the valley

Other tactics to prevent creating experiences which fall to the valley include focusing on nonlinear design plans, narrative, character development presence, game mechanics, along with other less visual components. We can adopt strategies including focusing on character motion like walking, walking, changing weight, and blinking developed by puppeteers.
1 obvious solution is to simply record a 360-degree movie rather than creating experiences that are revived. Here are three articles and one how-to movie which will allow you to get started with creating eLearning adventures employing videos.
Don’t forget the noise. Immersive sound is arguably more significant in video games and VR. Luckily, it’s relatively cheap to employ sound engineers and professional voice actors produce and to document your music tracks. If your budget is particularly restricted, you may even list the immersive sound tracks the above DIY for yourself 360 video studio.


Until the time when photorealistic animation can be made quickly and cheaply by people without design and animation experience, the uncanny valley will continue to be problematic for eLearning professionals that are generating VR training adventures and serious games. Luckily, the majority of us aren’t trying to wow the world. Train and we’re trying to educate people, and we don’t need CGI avatars that are absolutely human-like to accomplish this. Using the strategies the valley is an avoidable, or entirely solvable, difficulty.


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