Bachelor's Thesis

Sweet but Creepy? An Investigation of the Impact of Appearance and Behaviour of Virtual Agents on Likeability and Social Acceptance.

Author:

Anastasia Chernetskaya

Supervisor:

Processing Period:

21.11.2022 - 01.02.2023

Abstract

Non-Player Characters (NPCs) have various functions in game worlds, such as initiating quests, selling items, entertaining or decorating an artificially animated atmosphere (Warpefelt & Verhagen, 2015). The design of the NPC plays a decisive role in the gaming experience (Afonso & Prada, 2008), especially if the game is heavily geared towards interacting with NPCs and works specifically with story elements such as film sequences. Successful lines show us that well-designed NPCs are able to evoke feelings in the user that can range from empathy to fear (Bopp et al., 2019). So the behavior and the appearance of the character seems to play an important role here (Warpefelt, 2015). However, it is unclear how strong the expression of empathy or fear is when the respective external characteristic is combined with contradictory behavior. The personal preferences of the subjects, after interacting with the respective NPC, could provide a guide for the future design decisions of the agents.