Increasing the Fascination of Synthetic Actors e.g. in Computer Games by Developing "Neurotic" Personality Agents

Project Leader

Prof.Dr.Robert Trappl 


Project Description

The market of interactive games, being played on PCs, game consoles or mobile phones, is booming. In this games already semi-intelligent agents are employed to steer virtual actors, especially opponents of human gamers. However, their “personality structure" is quite simple, their motivation is fast winning. Therefore, the human player is only challenged with respect to rational, strategic behavior.

In this research project the hypothesis was investigated if the attractivity of games could be increased by using emotional and/or partially "neurotically" acting agents. Two different personality agents were developed and integrated into games.

Since we were successful in motivating the winner of the Austrian World Cyber Games Qualification 2002 in Age of Emires 2 and representative of Austria at the "World Cyber Games 2002 in Taejon (South Korea) to cooperate in this project, the result of the project is not only a theoretical development. He brought his gaming experience into the project and, in addition, enabled us to test the game in ist original version, with the intelligent and emotional personality agent, and with the intelligent and partially "neurotically" behaving agent on 50 gamers in a double-blind experimental situation. The gamers also filled out a questionnaire which included also a semantic differential.

One of the unexpected results of this project was the fact that the personality agent with emotions had a higher gaming power in the game "Age of Mythologies" than the original one. Contrary to all expectations, of the versions "normal", defensive", "aggressive", and "neurotic" the "neurotic" one was the most successful.

The results of this project can lay the foundations for the development of personality agents with game-specific psychologiocal disturbances which, however, have to be tested in field epxeriments before their implementation in commercial games.

The paper "Neuroticism - a competitive advantage (also) for IVAs?" which was presented at the conference Intelligent Virtual Agents - IVA 2007 in Paris is available online

This paper stirred a long discussion in the NewScientist Technology Blog.


Austrian Federal Ministry for Transport, Innovation and Technology, 2006 - 2008.