Realism In Video Games: Is It What We Want?

I would like to pose a question to our community here at Platform Nation about something that I have been on the fence with when I consider the future of gaming. Should video games, both in terms of game mechanics as well as storyline, continue to strive toward realism? Sure, it’s more realistic that the protagonist of an FPS game can only carry two weapons at a time, but is it more fun that way? Do games such as Homefront or the infamous airport slaughter level in Call of Duty strike a chord that is too close to home? Or is this exactly what people want to see?

Personally, I had just as much fun shooting aliens and hell spawned demons as I did mowing down countless Mexican ‘rebels’ in Ghost Recon, and I didn’t have to deal with that strange sense of guilt and inner conflict whenever I thought about what I was doing. Having said that, I should tell you Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter 2 is probably my favorite third person shooter, but I think you understand what I am getting at. Gamers don’t tend to think of enemy AI as being actual people, to us they are simply known as baddies, NPC’s, mobs, or the like. Is it really necessary to make these faceless NPC’s into real people that I might meet on the street? Because when you stop and look at a game that is based in a real life setting, the high score you got from your head shot count is really quite sinister (and slightly comical). I wonder, would a WWII veteran enjoy playing or seeing a WWII video game?

No one calls ME a gringo, bitch!

How about game mechanics? Limiting a player to using only two guns makes sense for multiplayer because it adds another layer of strategy to the experience and makes fights more interesting in the long run, but what about single player? I know fully well that it doesn’t make any sense for Gordon Freeman to be carrying around twelve different weapons (not to mention ammunition) at the same time while sprinting for cover faster than most Olympic champions could ever dream of, but Half Life 2 is still my favorite single player FPS game of all time. What is the point of trying to make a shooter as hardcore realistic as you can when you can still recover from bullet wounds by ducking behind cover and breath heavily for a couple seconds? I miss med packs…

So what am I getting at here? Am I trying to tell you that all games should have us fighting nameless goblins and demons and give us crazy super powers? Certainly not, I love variety in video games and if reenacting what we see on the news is the only way to achieve that, then so be it. But I also think that we should have a fair balance of both realistic and over the top games alike, and at times I feel as if the later is being left behind. We did have a refreshing taste of balls out fun with Bulletstorm, but even that felt limited when compared to what games like Quake or Doom had to offer during their times of glory. There is also Duke Nukem Forever on the horizon, but I honestly wasn’t all that impressed with what I played while at PAX East.

Was this really necessary?

What do you think? Like I said, I am on the fence with the issue and can’t seem to make up my mind, and it appears game developers are in the same boat. Should our games be over the top, or just like real life? I can’t stand playing EVE Online anymore because it is so realistic that it bored me to death, but some people love that game all the way down to its dull repetitive core. So who can say? Sound off in the comments below and let us know your opinion!

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  • i wish games would stop chasing the impossible dream of realism as without actually shooting and killing players then a first person shooter can never be real, sports games could only be played by the fittest athletes etc

    I play games for escapism and above all, fun/entertainment.  I don’t want a game to feel like work.

  • Thugbob

    I prefer simulations.  I prefer my games to be as realistic as possible, but not to the point where it takes out the fun. For example I don’t want a shooter where if you got shot in the leg you’ll be limping all over the map for the entire game. Overall I prefer realism and so does everyone else(whether you realize it or not). Uncharted would not be a popular if they did not respect real physics. Imagine if you could fly in Uncharted, weird? The reason why realism is good is because it provides challenge. Being restricted is what gives us the challenge in video games. Also I’m pretty sure you think CoD is realistic. I on the other hand think that game is arcadey. People running ridiculously fast, lunging 50 feet away stabbing people to death. No recoil or bullet spread on the guns. CoD is a acradey casual infested game lmao.