What is the ‘Haunting Valley’ phenomenon and why does Minecraft challenge contemporary video games?

What is the ‘Haunting Valley’ phenomenon and why does Minecraft challenge contemporary video games?

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What is the ‘Haunting Valley’ phenomenon and why does Minecraft challenge contemporary video games?

The phenomenon of “Haunting Valley” is an idea according to which the more a robot or a 3D animation looks like a human being, more rejection generates us. In a context in which the current generation of video games replicates reality almost perfectly, the world’s best-selling game breaks this trend: Minecraft It is made from blocks as if they were Lego, but pixelated.

The graphics of Playstation 5, Xbox Series and PC come in some cases to confuse us:Are we watching a video game or a real life NBA game? What makes us see a character on the screen who looks too much like us, as well as amazement? Why are today’s “Triple A” video games, such as art in Ancient Greece, they try to do mimesis of real life?

Minecraft, at the other end, does not try to imitate reality but quite the opposite. And yet an update from last year adds so realistic light effects (called “Ray tracing”) That make the world become immersive to a level that it makes us forget that we are in a video game.

An interesting paradox: the game that nobody expected, the one that nobody asked for, added ray tracing to a world that never tried to resemble reality.

The haunting valley

A sunset on a Minecraft RTX server. PC Capture with EVGA GeForce RTX 3060

The name of Valle Inquietante responds to a graphic that measures the reaction of like or dislike that people present when asked to tell how they feel in the presence of an artificially generated human model.

What the robotics expert raised Masahiro Mori was that in front of robots with human characteristics the participants usually react with pleasure: Wall-E Disney, for example, generates cuteness with their facial expressions. It is a robot with humanized features, not an anthropomorphic creation.

However, faced with extremely human-like models such as androids, what Mori called Bukimi no Tani Genshō: the phenomenon of the disturbing Valley, due to the fall that is drawn in the graph:

What is the ‘Haunting Valley’ phenomenon and why does Minecraft challenge contemporary video games?

The problem is not new: the replicant of Blade runner (1982, Ridley Scott), The Robots series by Isaac Asimov (1950), the robot boy from AI (2001, Steven Spielberg) are some of the works that during the 20th century raised the particularity of this phenomenon.

With a video game generation bent on making Triple-A gaming look more and more like real life, the “Uncanny Valley” phenomenon may already be at the point where it starts to generate some rejection: certain games look (disturbingly?) real in Playstation 5, Xbox Series X or and PC.

Minecraft, at the other end of this phenomenon, is a game that looks like something out of a 30-year-old console with a fuzzy lens: Although it has an ending, most of its players interact in a kind of parallel universe, a kind of second nature that is quite far from wanting to represent reality identically.

Under this strange idea, the game created by the Swedish Markus “Notch” Persson in 2009 became the best-selling game in the world, surpassing Tetris, Super Mario Bros and Grand theft auto v.

Minecraft fiction, with Ray Tracing

What is the ‘Haunting Valley’ phenomenon and why does Minecraft challenge contemporary video games?

The reflections of the lights are generated by artificial intelligence. PC Capture with EVGA GeForce RTX 3060

Minecraft isn’t trying to be realistic, but rather, it’s trying to get us to take a dip in a world that doesn’t look real at all.

But one of the latest “big” updates to the game is called Minecraft RTX and it’s almost a paradox: the game incorporated light reflections hyperrealistic.

Ray Tracing technology, which simulates the effects of light by artificial intelligence, was announced a year ago in the game and woke up all kinds of criticism and even mockery: “the function that nobody asked for” arrives, the memes on duty said.

Why add light effects to a game made of pixelated blocks that seem more lego in a world where video games want us to believe that we are experiencing something? “Extremely real”?

These questions, perhaps, were asked by the developers at Nvidia and Mojang, the proprietary studio: it was a real headache to generate these kinds of effects.

What is the ‘Haunting Valley’ phenomenon and why does Minecraft challenge contemporary video games?

Water, one of the surfaces where ray tracing is most appreciated. PC Capture with EVGA GeForce RTX 3060

As Ray Tracing is a technology that generates the reflections of light by artificial intelligence, one of the main developments has to do with with how light bounces off objects. And the objects in Minecraft are basically all the same: plane figures six-sided (cubes) and opaque colors.

For this, Nvidia, the company that developed this version of Minecraft (and that invented Ray Tracing), had to redraw with Mojang each texture game with 4 characteristics: “Metality or reflectivity “,”emissivity“, Which is the amount of thermal radiation emitted by a surface according to its temperature (that is, how much an object should” shine “), roughness and a”height map”Which indicates how many levels of reflection an object has depending on which part is lit.

All this was extremely complex: new values ​​had to be assigned to each and every one of Minecraft’s blocks and surfaces in order to generate reflections that looked precisely real.

Now, “the” question: Why would Minecraft need real reflections, if it is a game that explicitly wants to show us that we are inhabiting a fiction and not something that tries to pretend to be reality itself? Why invest so much effort in making a game made of blocks look “more realistic”?

Immersion: the world is not made of blocks

What is the ‘Haunting Valley’ phenomenon and why does Minecraft challenge contemporary video games?

The lights and reflections, generated by artificial intelligence in real time. PC Capture with EVGA GeForce RTX 3060

It’s hard to find Minecraft RTX reviews that go beyond game performance. What can be said for sure in this area is that it is very demanding on a graphical level: you need a very powerful PC to be able to run it.

But this is not the most interesting thing about Minecraft RTX: the game challenges the way we think when gaming in the XXI century.

On the one hand, because the dissonance produced by their worlds where everything is built with elements worthy of a retro console together with the spectacular reflections of light generates a unique immersion: at times we forget that the real world is not made up of blocks.

On the other hand, see reflections in glass, water and other reflective surfaces, but with bases of “Pixel perfect” it gives a life to the game that, until now, it had only opaquely.

It is true that no one had asked for this technology in Minecraft. But at the same time, it is undoubtedly one of the most surprising applications of this type of artificial intelligence so far.

What is the ‘Haunting Valley’ phenomenon and why does Minecraft challenge contemporary video games?

Changes in weather and the day-night cycle, a phenomenon to appreciate Minecraft RTX. PC Capture with EVGA GeForce RTX 3060

Minecraft is a huge cultural phenomenon. It is estimated that the game will grow by 4 billion kilometers squares over the next few years, 8 times the surface of our planet Earth.

It is likely that the world still does not understand how a game with pixelated blocks is positioned as the best-selling in the world, in times when Triple A games install a standard of hyper realistic graphics.

But maybe it’s this combination of graphics old school with lights, reflections, shadows and landscapes as real as possible stop the Haunting Valley before it becomes unbearable.

In a 2015 interview on a late night show, interviewer Craig Ferguson told Minecraft creator Markus “Notch” Persson that he didn’t quite understand what Minecraft was all about.

Notch smiled and, after a pause, confessed.

─I’m not sure I understand either.

What is the ‘Haunting Valley’ phenomenon and why does Minecraft challenge contemporary video games?

Minecraft RTX, on Windows 10. PC Capture with EVGA GeForce RTX 3060

Clarion Tried Minecraft RTX on PC:

  • Video Card: Nvidia EVGA GeForce RTX 3060 (DLSS 2.0 On)
  • CPU: AMD Ryzen 5 3600X
  • Ram: 16GB
  • Resolution: 2K (2560×1440)
  • Kingston KC2500 SSD