Video Game Technology: The Facial Realism Of L.A. Noire

I confess: I love video games. People laugh when I say this but I”m really not joking when I say that I need to understand video games for my job.

It’s important to understand video games simply because of the large role they play in our popular culture. But from a more precise professional perspective, it is important for we professional communicators to understand video games for their influence on communications and for their utility as communication media.

Video games are approaching movies and television as powerful emotionally compelling storytelling vehicles. Beyond simple film, video games allow the “viewer” to actually engage with and manipulate a story.

I’ve always thought one of the single biggest flaws of the medium was the failure to realistically depict eyes. Eyes, human or otherwise, convey emotion so effortlessly and so powerfully that the video game industry’s failure to clear that technological hurdle has been one of the biggest drawbacks for the successful suspension of disbelief needed for the medium to surpass film and television as a widespread entertainment medium.

I think that assumption may have been wrong or at least the realistic depiction of eyes was not as crucial as I believed. Take a look at the trailer for the upcoming release of L.A. Noire by Rockstar Games and pay close attention to the facial expressions of the characters and compare them to the eyes of those characters.

The eyes remain relatively flat but the emotion conveyed by the facial expressions of the characters is the most realistic I’ve yet seen in a video game. Then check out the behind-the-scenes video that demonstrates the motion-capture technology they used to record the facial expressions of the actors.

Found at YouTube from RockstarGames.

Found at YouTube from RockstarGames.

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