Has Your Internal Facial Recognition Software Ever Stopped Working?

I’ve mentioned a few times that I attended a local game convention two weekends ago. This is my fourth year attending Geekway to the West, and my connections within the game industry have grown–particularly people I’ve met face-to-face–thanks to Geekway, Gen Con, and the Stonemaier Games Design Day.

This year I had something odd happen throughout the convention: I had a really hard time differentiating between people I’ve seen before and people I’ve actually talked to in the past. It was as if my brain could process the information that I knew the face, but it couldn’t take it a step further.

At least, not without a delay. Because without fail, when I got home each night, my brain would catch up. Suddenly I full comprehension of exactly where I had talked to those people in the past.

I don’t know if this has any scientific merit, but my perception is that my brain was on overload while walking about a crowded convention, processing dozens of faces in all directions at all times. It couldn’t handle that amount of information, so it just did the bare minimum until it was removed from that environment.

Does that make sense? Has this ever happened to you?


5 thoughts on “Has Your Internal Facial Recognition Software Ever Stopped Working?”

  1. Anyone who has to work with hundreds of people has had this happen, sadly.

    In my last corporate gig, I ran projects for an organization of close to 1000 people. I cannot remember how many times I would run into people in an elevator and they would thank me for something I did or ask me a question about how something was doing.

    One of the tricks I learned was to ask a question that was vague enough to not scream “I don’t know who you are” without asking directly “Who are you again?”.

    One common one I use is “So, anything new with your project this week?” or “Ohh, right, I was meaning to ask how your project is doing lately!”. Inevitably, the person will answer with the project name somewhere in answer or talk about some feature or other aspect of the project that would help me to make the connection back to the project and to the person so I could end the conversation with “Thanks again !”

    Its very important in my experience to always to try make everyone you interact with in business know that you care not only about their work, but also enough to know who they are, even if memory overload frequently gets in the way.

    • Anthony: That’s a great tip! I typically went with “It’s good to see you!” But I like the use of a question to get them to say something to help with the connection.

  2. For me this happens a lot as well- it has led to a few awkward interactions, and more than a few funny one’s where I simply admit I do not remember their name and we laugh about it.

    I have a true envy of those people whom can remember every face they see without effort. For me I think it is because of an overload of sorts. when there is a-lot going on our minds tend to get easily distracted. and sometimes when you meet someone your are happy to chat it up but also in the back of your mind you are also thinking about when the next table time you booked is going to be ready (or about food, or anything else really).

    The question is did we really stop honestly look at the person and honestly focus/actively listen to them. Many times in these scenarios I find that to be a NOPE. we weren’t focused truly so the interaction falls out of short term memory before getting stored properly in long term.

    The Japanese do this better I think, as interactions force more focus in business related functions at least. as they have an entire etiquette and process to do something as simple as exchange business cards which are viewed as important extension of themselves. They bow, look each other in the eye and hand their cards with both hands to another person whom must also receive the card with both hands, then the other card is handed over in much the same way. in short you can’t be thumbing in your pocket for your phone when meeting someone and getting their card and you cant haphazardly just toss yours out to people. You have to fully engage them in what is considered a special interaction.

    What I try to do is whenever I strike up a conversation with someone is do my best to only focus on them, pay special attention to their name, and when walking away create a brief mantra in my head to repeat a few brief times, (Al Orr Origins.. to remember Al that worked at Origin entertainment etc)

    Not fool prof (I assure you) but this has helped so very much over the years.


    • Ahh, I always love the bowing wars I have seen in Japan. For those not familiar, it is basically when 2 business people approach each other, and often times their subordinates start bowing back and forth at each other trying to show signs of respect for each of their higher-ups. Often times, if you watch closely, they are trying to bow lower than the opposing person with each successive bow. It could almost be considered a bit of a cultural game if not for the fact that it can have massive political implications of not handled appropriately.

    • Bill: These are great tips! I like the connection to how the Japanese greet each other–I found that to be true in my year abroad there. And that’s a clever idea to repeat information about the person immediately after you first meet them.


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