We all know how important eye contact is in real life, but how important is it in video games? Specifically, in video games that place human characters and interactions front and center? As I came to realize while writing up this post for United We Game, it matters quite a bit. This isn’t to say that meaningful dialogue and gestures don’t go a long way in helping us connect to these characters. But the eyes are windows to the soul, and when a character’s eyes “speak,” it can make all the difference between just playing a game and really engaging with it.
A few weeks back I listened to a discussion on a “brand name” gaming site about the extreme (and wonderful) progression of graphics in games since the beginning of the last generation. A good portion of the discussion centered around character animation and just how realistic-looking people, animals, and other moving elements in games have become over the past decade or so. During the conversation, one person made a passing remark conceding that though facial animations had so greatly improved as technology improved, to him most game characters still seemed “blank,” and it was all because of their eyes.
I dwelled on this point for a moment and I thought, “Really? Eyes?? Trivial. Facial animations in games have become so much better than ever, and a real person’s eyes can only say so much.” And I moved on as the conversation moved on.
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