Uncanny Valley, the non-game-related thread

Theory is fascinating. I’m not really a tech guy, knowing just as much about computers as I need to in order to build and tweak my gaming rigs, so it’s sort of new to me. I’m sure that to some of you guys (especially the artists and robotics d00dz) my fixating on it is not unlike when kids and Koontz wax eloquent on deep-discussion-into-the-wee-hours-in-the-dorm-room angsty topics. So forgive me.

But there’s two things (and they’re going to seem like a joke, probably, but I’m serious):

  1. Why aren’t ventriloquist dummies on there? Ventriloquist dummies are the scariest motherscratchers out there. And not because they look sick or diseased or something, but because their asses are EVIL.

  2. It seems like the authors of the principle want it to be considered at least somewhat seriously. So why the hell do they have “zombie” listed on it? Is it a robotic workers of America inside joke I just don’t get?

Do Mme. Tussaud’s wax museum sculptures fall inside the valley?

  1. They’re probably on there somewhere… probably near banruku puppet whatever the hell that is.

  2. Because for some reason all zombies look pretty much the same in every visual depiction of them and it gives people a point of reference.

I’d mentioned my view in the other thread. I think “Uncanny valley” is rather overblown and subjective. Many of the things placed in it by this or that critic are better explained by other, more specific “repuslse responses,” even if there is a genuine uncanny valley effect also at play.

Most often, things said to be in the uncanny valley, I find better explained as appearing to be merely dead, deseased or deformed. Such things don’t need the uncanny valley to explain why they repel us.

So, I don’t think the valley is a dip at a given point on the continuum of cartoony to realistic. Instead, it’s simply our response when something is “realistic+something horribly wrong”. However, Old Man Gravy has my full support in his campaign of death against the evil ventriloquist dolls.

People want to make a lot of it because it’s a neat and convenient all-in-one explanation for why the almost-human disturbs us. You also hear it a lot from fans of traditional animation.

“Magic is fun…When you’re DEAD.”

I’ve met a lot of people my age who were scared shitless by that commercial as kids. When a friend and I discovered we had that in common, we rented the movie — it’s actually a great fucking movie, with an amazing performance by Anthony Hopkins, who did the ventriloquism himself.

The whole point of it isn’t to denote what aspect of almost humanity it is that disturbs folks in each case, but rather to point out that there’s this weird place in anthropomorphism where making things seem more human is actually likely to yield a negative reaction, because there’s some inner conflict about what we perceive as being “almost human”.

Yes, if you look hard enough you can almost always find the disturbing aspect (“dead eyes”, “unnatural movement”, “slightly off proportions”, etc…). The point isn’t that these are what cause the negative reactions, but rather that there’s a spot where these minor imperfections have a greatly magnified effect on human reactions. This is particularly true when compared to obviously cartoon exaggerations which people actually identify more easily with.

You don’t find that at all interesting? Because I sure do. I can accept Yosimete Sam as “more human” than those creepy animatronics at Disney World, despite the fact that the animatronics are a lot more lifelike. Moreover, the better the animatronics get, the worse they creep me out.

What, just because they want to sneak into your bedroom in the middle of the night and devour your soul?

I know as a bona-fide fact that Lincoln and Washington are plotting against me. Along witht hat guy who works in the hydroponic orange grove over in Epcot who’s son is always having a birthday!

I would like to hear more about hat guy.

Don’t worry, he can tell you plenty about himself when he’s staring at you from the foot of your bed at 3:00 AM tonight.


ARGHG! Okay, THAT’s creepy as hell.