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Realism in Gaming
by Nate Paolasso on 02/16/13 09:41:00 pm   Featured Blogs

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The following blog post, unless otherwise noted, was written by a member of Gamasutraís community.
The thoughts and opinions expressed are those of the writer and not Gamasutra or its parent company.

 

This article was originally posted on N4G.

Obviously, at the very beginning, everything is simple. The first movie ever documented was of a man sneezing. The first stories were drawings of men hunting animals on cave walls. And people start out as a single, simple cell. This immaturity and simpleness is also true with video games. From the simplistic beginnings of Pong sprung an entire industry devoted to making games as intricate and realistic as possible. Games today are more believable and realistic than ever. Developers continue to break boundaries in what video games can do, both with story telling and graphical prowess. While some games are still raw and simple, developers should strive to bring a new level of realism into their games because the closer we can get video games to reality, the more we can understand ourselves. 
Battlefield 3
Video game 'realism', in every sense of the word, has come a long way since the days of quarter-fed arcade machines. High-powered PC's can produce cutting edge graphics that deliver complete immersion into a gaming world. Polygons upon polygons are being rendered; providing uncanny resemblance to the real world. Games like Battlefield 3 and Crysis 3, when put in a powerful enough rig, look absolutely photo-realistic. Even consoles are pushing the limits of what we expect from games. And with the next generation of consoles just around the bend, the graphical power is sure to get even better. Graphical immersion is, however, just a small part of what makes a game feel like a real experience. 

Obviously, the experience is real for people; we're not imagining playing these games. Games no longer are confined to simple mechanics of go here, perform this, achieve that. Now, more often than not, games have stories. These stories can range from action-thriller, to drama, to horror. Games like Heavy Rain are almost purely story driven and use very little mechanics. The realism of games like Heavy Rain, both graphically and emotionally, are startling. As gamers we become attached to characters, and we care about what happens to them. This relationship that gamers started having with characters didn't really happen until games got big graphical boosts and story makeovers. Original games like The Legend of Zelda and Final Fantasy gave the gamer something to fight for, and a reason to push forward. The natural progression of the industry, and technology as a whole, has made these stories more believable. And the more realistic they become, the greater investment gamers are going to put into them. 
Heavy Rain
It's important that gamers invest not only their money, but their time, into the games that they play. Even games as mechanically simple as Super Meat Boy have some sort of story that the player can relate to. Making connections with people and objects is possibly the biggest part of being a human. When we're infants, we connect with our parents. But along with our human connections, we form a bond with the toys and blankets given to us; these things bring us comfort. That sense of connection never goes away with age, we still get attached to our possessions. Games that fail to capture the players interest, and leave them without any afterthought, are hardly spectacular. But a game that is realistic and reflects the human condition, forms a bond with its' players and is something special. These games are forever remembered as masterpieces. 

All video game developers should attempt to make their games, in some form or another, realistic. They may choose to go down the path of cutting edge technology that produces a photo-realistic experience. Maybe create a deep and enthralling story that gets the player emotionally invested. Or maybe they choose to reflect the human condition back onto the player, forcing them to see their own strengths and weaknesses. All of these things generate games that not only immerse the player into the worlds fiction, but make that fiction seem like reality. Who knows, maybe a game will come along that delivers all of these things, and completely take the gaming world by surprise. 


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