Welcome to the UNCANNY VALLEY Card Game!

This game is actually an experiment.  You are going to rate and map how you feel about eight very different robots.  The map will show you something important about robot design.

New: Watch the video “How to Play the Uncanny Valley Card Game”

WHAT YOU NEED TO PLAY–

  • A washable marker
  • A pencil
  • Uncanny Valley Cards. Download them from SPECIAL FEATURES and print them off on your home printer. If you can, print them in color and on cardstock or heavy paper.  If you can’t do that, don’t worry, it will still work.
  • Put a piece of clear tape over the little square in the bottom, right-hand corner of each cards.
  • Print off the Uncanny Valley Worksheet in B&W on regular paper.

The question you will answer in playing this game is,

“How does how human a robot looks affect how I feel about them?”

  1. Look at all the robots on the cards. How comfortable would you be having them take your order and serve you food in a restaurant?  We are using the word “comfortable” to mean that you feel relaxed and at ease with the robot.  In this game “comfortable” is the opposite of “scary” or “creepy.”
  2. Order the robots from left to right starting with those you feel least comfortable with to those you feel most comfortable with. Note that there are two cards for “Phillip K. Dick.”  One is a real person (he has a beard) and one is an android built to look like that real person (he has wires hanging out the back of his head.)

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3. Use your washable marker to put a “1” in the square on the card for the robot you feel most uncomfortable with. Put “2” in the square of the card for the robot you ranked as second most uncomfortable. Keep doing this for all the cards. If you’ve kept them in order and counted right, the robot you feel most comfortable should get an “8.” Here’s an example of what one person did, but it’s just an example. Everyone will have their own feelings toward various robots.

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4. Now look for the letter on the top left-hand corner of the cards, and re-arrange your cards so that they go from A to H in alphabetical order. If you look closely, you will see that the robots go from least human looking (on the left) to most human looking (on the right).

5. Look at ratings you gave the robots.  The next step is to do what scientists do and plot your Uncanny Valley by putting dots at the intersections of letters and numbers, starting with A. Match the letter from the card with the letter on the chart, and match the number from the card with the number on the chart, then find the point where those lines intersect.   Repeat until you have gone through all the cards.  Then connect the dots.

 

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6.  Most people feel about the same about Robots A, B, and C and like Robot D the most. Then something weird happens. As the robots look more and more human, most people aren’t as comfortable with them. Some even say they are “creepy.” The Uncanny Valley shows this as a dip on your graph between E and H.