What Makes Characters Seem Life-Like
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.
KeywordsMarketing Coherence Tempo Doyle Alan
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