Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Society benefits from L.A. Noire

Rockstar Games has put a lot of work into storytelling in recent games like Grand Theft Auto IV and Red Dead Redemption. The writing is always good, the characters are memorable, the look and feel is very carefully developed and in an industry rarity, the acting is superb.

But the biggest new technology Rockstar is trumpeting is the facial motion captures being used in the newest game, L.A. Noire.

The game focuses a lot on interviewing and interrogating witnesses and suspects, and players need to be able to read the faces of the characters to determine when someone is lying.

And that's where the economics come in.

Rockstar has put a lot of money into advancing this technology for entertainment purposes, but an Asperger's Syndrome expert says socially-blind patients can benefit from the game and learn more about reading facial expressions.

Add this to my running tally of positive externalities from video games.

For any readers who want to practice their facial reading skills, check out this great video of Milton Friedman talking to a student about public and private housing. Watch the changes in the student's facial expressions and body language from 5:55 to 6:03.

It communicates a very clear message: "This guy just beat me."

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