Why do game characters look so creepy?

The art of play.
June 9 2004 5:20 PM

The Undead Zone

Why realistic graphics make humans look creepy.

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Unfortunately, though, gaming's Uncanny Valley could be here to stay, simply because players have become used to it. In the real world of plastic surgery, face-lifts used to look horrifically strange but now go unnoticed. Likewise, we've played with dead, fish-eyed characters for so long that they seem kinda normal. Creepiness, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder.

Correction, June 10, 2004: This piece originally described the Fear Effect series of games as the "Fear Factor" series.(Return to the corrected sentence.)

Clive Thompson is a longtime contributing writer for the New York Times Magazine and a columnist for Wired. He is the author of Smarter Than You Think: How Technology Is Changing Our Minds for the Better.