Anthropomorphize Everything?

Anything can engender empathy if you put enough human features on it – so when should you?

Botanicula tells the story of a chestnut, an acorn, a mushroom and a twig meeting all kinds of critters in their treetops adventures. The visuals, animations and sound effects of all characters are so fun and cute that you will immediately fall in love with them, building empathy for the smallest living creatures.

Anthropomorphization, the practice of giving human features to animals or inanimate objects, has been a huge part of gaming culture ever since Shigeru Miyamoto decided to put eyes on all the hills in Super Mario Bros. It’s also a topic of much debate in the ecology, conservation and environmental communities. On the one hand, it’s a powerful and easy shortcut to emotional connection, making it easy for audiences to care about the most unexpected things and creatures. On the other hand, it masks all the ways in which animals and natural systems are fundamentally different from us. It can feed into anthropocentrism, the sense that everything revolves around us, and shield your audience from the wonder of realizing how truly deep and diverse our world is. Consider your audience, and proceed with care!