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Creating Believable Emotional Virtual Characters Open Access


Other title
Believable Characters
Virtual Characters
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
Desai, Neesha J
Supervisor and department
Szafron, Duane (Computing Science)
Examining committee member and department
Gouglas, Sean (Humanities Computing)
Bulitko, Vadim (Computing Science)
Carbonaro, Michael (Educational Psychology)
Mandryk, Regan (Computer Science, University of Saskatchewan)
Department of Computing Science

Date accepted
Graduation date
Doctor of Philosophy
Degree level
Believable, realistic video game character behaviour continues to lag behind the improvements in graphics, stories and game play in video games. In this dissertation we focus on the use of two techniques, emotional gaits and emotional incidents, as a way to add easily identifiable, non-verbal, and non-facial emotion to background game characters, thereby increasing the believability of these characters. Emotional gaits refers to the body posture, hand/arm positioning, walk and walking speed of the characters. An emotional incident is an emotion-specific interaction between characters or between characters and props within the game world. The selection and implementation of the techniques was designed to be easily scaled to large numbers of characters and require a minimal number of additional animations. These techniques (emotional gaits and emotional incidents) were analyzed through six different user studies. The examination focused on three aspects: 1) the ease of emotion identification when the behaviour was isolated, 2) whether the gender of the participants and characters affected the results, and 3) emotion identification when observed during normal game play. The results show that participants were able to accurately identify the emotions, that the combination of both emotional gaits and emotional incidents was best overall (but some emotions could be equally achieved with only one), that there were some small differences based on participant gender, and that participants could easily and quickly learn to identify the character emotions when observed within a game world.
Permission is hereby granted to the University of Alberta Libraries to reproduce single copies of this thesis and to lend or sell such copies for private, scholarly or scientific research purposes only. Where the thesis is converted to, or otherwise made available in digital form, the University of Alberta will advise potential users of the thesis of these terms. The author reserves all other publication and other rights in association with the copyright in the thesis and, except as herein before provided, neither the thesis nor any substantial portion thereof may be printed or otherwise reproduced in any material form whatsoever without the author's prior written permission.
Citation for previous publication
Neesha Desai, and Duane Szafron. Enhancing the Believability of Character Behaviors Using Non-Verbal Cues, Proceedings of the Eighth AAAI Conference on Artificial Intelligence and Interactive Digital Entertainment (AIIDE), Stanford, USA, October, 2012, 130-135.

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