Can virtual cars fall into the "uncanny valley"? (Hint: yes)S

Make no mistake: the graphics in both Gran Turismo 5 and Forza Motorsports 4 are stunning—huge improvements over each of their respective predecessors. But have you ever felt the cars in those games look a little too perfect?

The developers at Forza's Turn 10 Studios have. In fact they were worried if they didn't change direction, the cars in Forza 5 might even fall into a virtual-car "uncanny valley." (FYI: "Uncanny valley": that spot where a humanoid robot looks so almost-but-not-quite-real it creeps you out.)

Can virtual cars fall into the "uncanny valley"? (Hint: yes)S


So they changed direction: they decided they'd make Forza 5's cars more realistic by adding imperfections.

But were they right to be worried? Is a car "uncanny valley" a thing? Like, really? Really? —Apparently yes.

Autofocus talked to an uncanny valley researcher who basically told us, yeah, it's a thing (at least it is in theory). Car enthusiasts' Jalops' brains are wired to treat cars' shapes like people's faces, so if you can have an uncanny face valley, you can have an uncanny car valley. We explain the whole thing in this feature here.

Full disclosure: while I am a Forza fanboy, Turn 10 didn't hook me up with any sort of swag to do this piece—no Xbone, no pre-release copy of Forza 5, no nothing.

Can virtual cars fall into the "uncanny valley"? (Hint: yes)S

Oh, hey, and if you can think of any examples of virtual cars that fall into the uncanny car valley, please post 'em below.