Perfection versus Mortality in Games and Simulation

The New Cultural Form: Perfection versus Mortality in Games and Simulation at Rensselaer
Becoming (2007), Silvia Ruzanka+Ben Chang

Willy Nilly’s Surf Shack offers a cure for the idealized virtual world of Second Life. The online shop, a project of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Associate Professor of Arts Ben Chang and collaborators, endows otherwise flawless avatars with real-world foils like clumsiness. A project allowing avatars to visibly age over time is in the works.

The shop is one of several projects Chang uses to explore humanity in technology. Chang, an electronic artist and recently appointed co-director of the Games and Simulation Arts and Sciences program at Rensselaer, sees the dialogue between perfection and mortality as an important influence in the growing world of games and simulation.

“There’s this transcendence that technology promises us. At its extreme is the notion of immortality that — with artificial intelligence, robotics, and virtual reality — you could download your consciousness and take yourself out of the limitations of the physical body,” said Chang. “But at the same time, that’s what makes us human: our frailty and our mortality.”

Link @ Rensselaer

Virtual Humans to Teach Emotion Recognition and Programming Logic

This looks interesting — !

Digiplay InitiativecMotion: A New Game Design to Teach Emotion Recognition and Programming Logic to Children using Virtual Humans

Publication Type: Journal Article
Year of Publication: 2009

Finkelstein, S. L.
A. Nickel
L. Harrison
E. A. Suma
T. Barnes

Journal IEEE Virtual Reality 2009, Proceedings


This paper presents the design of the final stage of a new game currently in development, entitled cMotion, which will use virtual humans to teach emotion recognition and programming concepts to children. Having multiple facets, cMotion is designed to teach the intended users how to recognize facial expressions and manipulate an interactive virtual character using a visual drag-and-drop programming interface. By creating a game which contextualizes emotions, we hope to foster learning of both emotions in a cultural context and computer programming concepts in children. The game will be completed in three stages which will each be tested separately: a playable introduction which focuses on social skills and emotion recognition, an interactive interface which focuses on computer programming, and a full game which combines the first two stages into one activity.

Digiplay Initiative

Philip K. Dick: android headHow very Phildickian: machines to teach children how to recognize human emotions. Martian Time-Slip comes to mind, with its teaching simulacra based on historical figures, e.g. the Abe Lincoln sim teaches self-reliance and related moral values. See also Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, where androids — living secretly among us — are more human than real humans. And don’t forget: We Can Remember It For You Wholesale. Then again: We Can Build You. And, inevitably: The Simulacra.

In the gaming field, Valve deserves special recognition for pioneering the memorable virtual humans of Half-Life, Half-Life 2, and subsequent games. From elaborate models and scripted sequences to persuasive non-player AI to facial animation and voice sequencing, Valve has advanced game technology like no other company.

Halflife scientist administers CPR