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Virtual Character Design for Games and Interactive Media

Book Description

While the earliest character representations in video games were rudimentary in terms of their presentation and performance, the virtual characters that appear in games today can be extremely complex and lifelike. These are characters that have the potential to make a powerful and emotional connection with gamers. As virtual characters become more intricate and varied, there is a growing need to examine the theory and practice of virtual character design. This book seeks to develop a series of critical frameworks to support the analysis and design of virtual characters.

Virtual Character Design for Games and Interactive Media covers a breadth of topics to establish a relationship between pertinent artistic and scientific theories and good character design practice. Targeted at students, researchers, and professionals, the book aims to show how both character presentation and character performance can be enhanced through careful consideration of underlying theory.

The book begins with a focus on virtual character presentation, underpinned by a discussion of biological, artistic, and sociological principles. Next it looks at the performance of virtual characters, encompassing the psychology of emotion and personality, narrative and game design theories, animation, and acting. The book concludes with a series of applied virtual character design examples. These examples examine the aesthetics of player characters, the design and performance of the wider cast of game characters, and the performance of characters within complex, hyperreal worlds.

Table of Contents

  1. Acknowledgments
  2. About the Author
  3. Introduction
    1. A Brief History of Virtual Characters
    2. An Overview of the Book
    3. Terminology
  4. Section I - Presentation
    1. Chapter 1 - Anatomy and Physical Cues
      1. Anatomy
        1. Body Proportions
        2. Body Type
        3. Sex Differences
      2. Physical Cues
        1. Attraction
        2. Health
        3. Age
      3. Summary and Activity
      4. References
    2. Chapter 2 - Visual and Audio Design Principles
      1. Line and Shape
      2. Silhouette
      3. Color
      4. Visual Style
      5. Sound Design for Virtual Characters
        1. Diegetic, Synchronous, and Empathetic Sound
        2. Sound Motifs
      6. Summary and Activity
      7. References
    3. Chapter 3 - Representation, Customization, and Transformation
      1. Identity
      2. Representation
        1. Gender and Sexuality
        2. Ethnicity, Religion, and Nationality
        3. Age and Social Class
      3. Customization
      4. Transformation
      5. Summary and Activity
      6. References
  5. Section II - Performance
    1. Chapter 4 - Personality, Emotion, and Expression
      1. Personality
        1. Personality Traits and the Five-Factor Model
        2. Individual Attitudes
        3. Political Views
        4. Balancing Personality Design for Virtual Characters
      2. Emotional States
        1. Emotions as Adaptive Behaviors
        2. Emotion and Virtual Character Performance
      3. Expression
        1. Posture and Proximity
        2. Facial Expression
        3. Voice and Emotional State
      4. Summary and Activity
      5. References
    2. Chapter 5 - Context, Story, and Gameplay
      1. Core and Shell
      2. Narrative Shell
        1. Setting and Backstory
        2. Archetypes and Stereotypes
        3. Interactive Plot
        4. Narrative Mode
        5. Thematic Statements
      3. Gameplay Core
        1. Video Game Genres
        2. Gameplay Design
        3. Mechanics, Dynamics, and Aesthetics
        4. Flow
      4. Summary and Activity
      5. References
    3. Chapter 6 - Acting, Movement, and Animation
      1. Thinking and Acting
      2. Stanislavski’s System
      3. Movement
      4. Animation Principles
      5. Animation Methods
      6. Mixed-Methods Animation
      7. Summary and Activity
      8. References
  6. Section III - Practice
    1. Chapter 7 - Control: The Aesthetics of Playable Characters
      1. Role Embodiment
      2. Role Fulfillment
      3. Role Projection
      4. Character Flow
      5. Summary
    2. Chapter 8 - Cast: The Aesthetics of the Virtual Ensemble
      1. Character Appeal
      2. Dependency
      3. Co-Protagonism
      4. Summary
    3. Chapter 9 - Complexity: The Aesthetics of Hyperreal Characters
      1. The Uncanny Valley
      2. The Turing Test
      3. Virtual Knowledge
      4. Conclusion
      5. References
  7. Glossary
  8. Ludography