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Theatre performers to help design video games

Video games could become more emotionally complex with new technology to improve virtual social interaction.

Stage actors are being utilised by researchers at Goldsmiths, University of London to design computer software that can read and reproduce the ways in which people communicate with their bodies.

Dr Marco Gillies from the university's Department of Computing has succeeded in making video game characters more realistic through theatre performers teaching him body movement.

These actors have interacted with members of the public behind a screen, with their body language responses recorded as algorithms by software.

"Two people can take on the roles of the video game character and the player, showing how the character should respond by acting out the movements themselves," explained Mr Gillies.

"The software enables video games characters to move in a more natural way, responding to the player’s own body language rather than mathematical rules."

Dr Gillies and his team has broken the mould with video game character development by enlisting artistic people, rather than just using computer programmers with technical knowledge.

"Our hypothesis is that the actors’ artistic understanding of human behaviour will bring an individuality,  subtlety and nuance to the character that it would be difficult to create in hand authored models," Dr Gillies said.

These movements are particularly difficult to programme, he added, as they are carried out instinctively as a part of movements we make numerous times every day.

Max Bye, a Goldsmiths student who became involved in the project noted how realistic the human reactions of the created virtual characters were. When he laughed at it, it responded by walking away looking disappointed.

It is hoped that this work to improve virtual social communication could expand the ways in which interactive media, such as video games, can be used. Titles in the future could become much more emotionally complex that can respond to the nuances of specific human behaviours.ADNFCR-1220-ID-801423837-ADNFCR