Smile expression

game play instructions

This game allows a player to experiment with the different effects of moving separate facial parts. In teaching someone how a face conveys emotion, you may choose to isolate one part, such as turning brows down to indicate disapproval, or up for surprise.

We recommend that you enlarge the screen to maximum size. After you play, use the browser back arrow to return to the main web site. The left side of the game screen shows a face that moves according to these control buttons:

  • RESET: Redraw the face with a neutral expression.
  • motion: Click once to make the head stop moving while displaying expressions. Click again to add a background head motion.
  • expressions afraid, interested, sad, ashamed, disgusted, surprised, happy, angry: Scripts demonstrate how the face moves for the chosen emotion. Each button click shows the sequence of face movements once. Use RESET to return to a neutral position after a script. Instructions on writing your own scripts are at
  • KEY/ACTION: Clicking the ACTION buttons will cause the KEY face parts of 'brows and lids', 'gaze', 'head', and 'mouth' to move in the requested directions. This is best explained by experimenting with combining actions.
  • Left side only/Right side only: These buttons limit the ACTION effect to only half the face.
FACELAND Check out FACELAND, a new interactive sotware program that teaches about emotions and understanding facial expressions.

Comments from users

"I want to thank you so much for your "Facial Expressions" program. About six months ago, I introduced it to my seven year old son who has Aspergers/HFA and he loved it. He had no trouble figuring out how to manipulate the face (which, by the way, we think looks eerily like Ann Curry from NBC News!) both with selected emotions and individual facial features. My son has a great deal of difficulty "reading" people's nonverbal expressions, and this game seemed a perfect tool for him. He played with the game here and there for about a month and I wasn't sure if he was getting anything out of it. Then one day he came in and told me about something unexpected that happened at school. I asked if his teacher was surprised. He pondered a moment, then said, "Why yes! She was very surprised! Her eyebrows went up and her mouth made into an oh!" CLICK! That was the first time he related a facial expression with an emotion! I can't tell you how thrilled I was! He spent a lot of time with the game over the next few weeks, and now he only plays with it occasionally. I think that's because he no longer needs it! He can figure out for himself what people are saying with their faces. Once again, thank you for this vitally useful tool. It truly works wonders!" Sincerely, C A, Michigan

We are grateful to Ken Perlin at New York University Media Research Lab for sharing this facial expressions program with us and our users. We have simplified the play screen to make it less distracting for those with focus issues, but the original code, expressions, and instructions are taken with permission from Perlin's web site Visit his site for instructions on other functions such as customizing scripting expressions.