junho 12, 2004

CONAN, the boy in the Future by Hayao Miyazaki (1978)

It's amazing how Miyazaki has been present since my infancy in my life. I had 4 years when he made this fabulous TV series. I saw it only when I was about 8 and since then i never forgot it.

Conan produced and huge memory mark in me. In the sunny days when I'm relaxed and have time to look at my infancy it's hard to avoid the Conan feelings. Visuals, music, voices, character movement, the apocalyptic scenario, Conan happiness with the little things, the loneliness.

Today when i look at a movie like "Spirited Away" i just feel this as to come from the same genius mind.

I came to the conclusion that "ICO" in some way, used some of these artistic atmospheres from Conan and that's maybe one of the reasons for ICO having touched me so profoundly.

junho 05, 2004

Sex, Technology, Storytelling and Emotions


Today "Wired for Sex" [1] was about the new tech sex toys for the elicitation of human orgasms, male or female. Products are getting better and better in touch/sense simulation, but the interviewed people were not yet satisfied. They said they could get orgasms but they don't get their sex needs, completely fulfilled. They didn't come to feel the intensity they await from a normal sex relation.

The real problem I'm seeing for technological sex is the same I see for digital storytelling. Human Emotions.

Everybody that has experienced sex with a stranger knows that the only thing he gets from that act is the orgasm deprived of feelings.

If you don't care about the other being you'll never get the top climax that a sex relation can provide.

In sex you need to feel that there's another being there. Besides the one and only "love" feeling that is so vast and difficult to define we can talk about the self-esteem. To get in a sex relation you need the sexual organs from your opposite [2], be it technological or in flesh but to feel it intense you need complicity, respect, admiration, etc. from the other being.

Feelings emanated from the other being will intensify the mechanical act, will elicit brain activity of self-esteem that bond with the act in itself will finally explode in a powerful outcome.

In a story is the same thing. If you don't come to care, feel angry, sorrow or happiness about the characters in the story, you'll never feel the emotional intensity and so the feelings of the story will come to be boredom and a waste of time.

I believe that sex technology could be a very good framework to show the peculiarity of human sensations, the human need of the other. Relations.

So if we want to provide anything technological that can someday elicit emotional intensity we'll need to get to emotional machines, which in some way can reach a point of emotion simulation, illusionary enough to fool our mind.

[1] TV Docummentary: Episode 4 - VIRTUAL REALITY SEX
[2] hetro relation

maio 20, 2004

"ICO" (2001) by Fumito Ueda

ICO is the first game with the ability to reproduce an area of fully diverse and undefined emotions in the user. The diversity could have been more intense if the narrative experience had a shorter duration, some story elements were lost while we're traversing the enormous castle (puzzle/maze). We need ten hours to finish the game, and between the moment we begin and the moment we come to closure some intensities are lost in time. I justify these losses by the pressings the authors must have felt in having to extend the game in order to fulfil player's desire for infinity playing.


I believe shadow monsters were almost unnecessary. In the most parts of the game they serve only the purpose to raise tension and anxiety in the player, they don't have a real goal, at least that justifies the intense fights in some parts of the game. Also through the game the relation between Yorda and Ico is developed but it would have been much stronger and much emotional if we had some facial close ups of Ico and Yorda. Anyway the fact of having two characters, one controlled by AI and the other by the user is amazing. We really come to a point when we feel responsible for Yorda and where we feel real empathy for Ico. The hands connection, emphasized through vibration of the game pad, is pure emotion design innovation.

The last hour of the game is truly poignant, tension and anxiety is raised in a balanced way taking us to a final cut scene that we receive as a delicious gift. This final cutscene has no typical "victory dynamics" euphoria but it's filled with a truly story reward full of "diverse and undefined emotions". When Yorda comes to get us, our emotions are completely diverse: happiness, sadness, surprise, adoration, kindness. We feel an enormous tenderness for both characters. The epilogue is plain magnificent, oneiric and very positive.





Think about Myst and add the universal theme "boy meets girl", relationships are the key for game emotions.


UPDATE
In 2005 I've made an extensive analysis of ICO and comparison with Myst for an european research project. You can read it here.


In 2009 I've published a book on interactive emotions where I've extended the analysis of Ico. The book was written in portuguese and is accessible free online, "Emoções Interactivas. Do cinema para os Videojogos", pages 244-253)

abril 15, 2004

A.I. by Steven Spielberg


As an emotion thought provoking movie we can analyse A.I. by Steven Spielberg as a truly guide for everyone interested in emotion and computers.

A.I. makes us believe that the final frontier really separating us from "meca" stands in EMOTION. We can even evolve this to cloning arguments and assume the same about clones versus originals.

Emotion is the real and only identification of human individualism.

About the end of the movie, I’ve now thought about two different depicted situations:

a) We can see the final characters as aliens from outer space. Explorers in search of new forms of life, historians of the universe. The planet Earth is showed as a dead planet without anything alive. And these characters could be only reconstructing our planet history through DNA. David was the only delegate of our existence, and the unique persistent specimen able to unveil the secret of how a human mind worked in the past. In the end we were not alone; we weren’t unique in the universe and neither the most important thing alive in the universe but only a part of it, a race that have been extinct like all the animals that are now disappearing from the face of the earth.


b) The characters as the third generation of 'meca', 'living' alone in planet earth. No humans left. Human bodies suppressed from the earth and only the minds transferred to 'meca' could have survived. Mind without organic bodies, the total liberation of mind could survive and became immortal. In the end the 'meca' minds could be seen as the 'organa' minds. We can even think that our minds without our body could become peaceful, comprehensive, intelligent, sublime, supra human as the depicted characters. Therefore our body is portrayed as the one to eliminate, our enemy, the great obstacle to human evolution. Against (a) we can see 'meca' as our unconscious development in order to avoid, even as mind only, the human race extinction nothing more than the most important biological function of species.

In (b) perspective we have a paradox, if we follow the state of the art of emotions studies. Emotions can’t exist in humans without body because emotions aren’t cerebral but bodily dependent.

This leads us to think that in the future AI must develop to a point in were it can be doable to create 'representations' of human body emotions and inject them in some container/memory inside a 'meca'.

But even if we do that, how can a 'meca' elaborate connections between representations o human body defences of life (emotions) and an artificial mind that doesn't need the body to survive or avoid extinction?

And now I arrived at my first thought about all this that in a way is in consonance with Schopenhauer philosophy.

Without death in the end of life line, why exist?
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Artificial Emotion
Sherry Turkle interview to Boston Globe

She says, we become attached to sophisticated machines not for their smarts but their emotional reach.

"They seduce us by asking for human nurturance, not intelligence," she says.

"We're suckers not for realism but for relationships."

Kids, she has found, define aliveness in terms of emotion: "In meeting objects as simple as Furbys, their conversations of aliveness have to do with if a computer loves them and if they love the computer."
The Love Machine

the 3 distinct areas to go when delving into emotion and computers

. emotion perception
. emotion interpretation
. emotion expression

Picard (1997)

abril 14, 2004

Today arrived

Nico Frijda, The Emotions, 1986

John LeDoux, The Emotional Brain, 1998
I’ll present a paper about emotion and virtual illusion, next week, day 21 of April at University of Covilhã, Portugal.

"Emotion Elements in Virtual Interactive Entertainment"

abstract: The convergence of narrative forms and directing/editing techniques between videogames and film are becoming a reality. Although the emotion intensity created by film is far superior to videogames. This paper presents a specification of emotion elements in interactive entertainment captured through neuroscience, cognitive science and film theory areas of knowledge...

it will be presented in the conference LUSOCOM 2004 (http://www.lusocom2004.ubi.pt)