What Makes Characters Seem Life-Like

  • Barbara Hayes-Roth
Part of the Cognitive Technologies book series (COGTECH)


What are the qualities that make characters seem life-like to the people who interact with them? Based on experience creating and evaluating dozens of interactive characters during the past decade, I suggest that characters seem more life-like when they are made to seem: conversational, intelligent, individual, social, empathic, variable, and coherent. In this chapter, I briefly describe five illustrative characters to ground the discussion of life-like qualities: Improv Puppets, Erin the Bartender, Jack the Canine Web Site Host, Katherine the Interactive Newscaster, and STAR Workshops featuring Coach Harmony and Role-Play Partners Nina and Ed. I then describe each of the life-like qualities in terms of behavioral features, attempt to rationalize them intuitively with reference to human behavior, and illustrate them with reference to the behavior of the illustrative characters. I conclude by proposing a variation on the Turing Test to evaluate the degree to which a character seems life-like.


Body Language Interactive Character Personal Question Target Skill Conversation Topic 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Barbara Hayes-Roth
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Computer ScienceStanford UniversityStanfordUSA
  2. 2.Extempo Systems Inc.Redwood CityUSA

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