Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Mini-Cast: Realism

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Hey I'm Baby Tea, and we're going to talk about realism in games. Is it good? It is bad? Does it even actually exist, and do we want it to exist? Let's find out on this Gamer's corner!

When people talk about realism in games, they can actually mean a few things, so we're going to narrow it down. Some people might talk about graphic realism, but we're not going to. Some people might mean characters, or story, or realistic situations, but we're not going to. We're talking about games, not a sitcom. No, we're going to talk about realistic gameplay. The military shooters, really, since you don't have realism seeping into any other genre.

So let's first talk about whether its "good" or "bad". Well, really, this is all taste. Sometimes I like playing Halo and being a super soldier with shields and lots of health! And sometimes I like playing Rainbow Six Vegas on 'realistic' difficulty and carefully, and tactfully, clear out a room. Both are fun, both are satisfying in their own way. You might prefer one over the other, but neither are inherently bad.

But have we really experienced realistic gameplay?
The biggest annoyance I have is when people use the word realism when referring to Call of Duty 4, or Modern Warfare 2. Now, I enjoy both of these games, but neither of them are realistic. At all. They might have real-world guns, real-world military hardware, even levels based on real-world locations, but nothing about those games is realistic. Anyone who tried to play the game online like a military shooter understands this quickly once they get stabbed by a 12 year old using lightweight, marathon, commando, and a tactical knife, who then brings their sexuality into question.

Let me say it one more time to go on record: Call of Duty 4, and Modern Warfare 2, are not realistic. At all. Playing either of them doesn't make you a gun or military expert. Shuttup.

But do we actually have any actual realistic games?
It's not Rainbow Six Vegas, or Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter. I've played every one of those games, and while they do offer some realistic gameplay, we can't really say it's realistic. If I get shot in the leg, I'm not just going to be moving slower. If I take a 5.56 mm round to the chest, I'm not going to hide behind a barrel and feel ok in a second.

A lot of Mil-Sim shooter fans would probably bring up two game series that some of you may or may not have played: Operation Flashpoint and ArmA. These two games get it the closest, I think, in terms of realism. But how good is that? Do people want that?

Well, yes and no. Mostly no. While both the Operation Flashpoint and ArmA series are undeniably popular, with a huge community behind them, they aren't nearly as popular as Mario Galaxy, or Halo, or Gears of War. Hyper-realism is a pretty niche market.

The problem with realism, and while we'll never really get it right, is the problem with consequences. Ultimately, it's still a game, and there isn't the same consequences as out there on the battlefield, because it's not the same. You don't see real-world soldiers worrying about their kill-death ratio.

And while the consequence might be you losing the game, or stay out until the whole round is over, that's hardly a real consequence is it? The thing about war is that it's not really pleasant. Getting shot at, getting wounded, these aren't things that translate well into a video game because, really, they aren't fun. And that's what a game is about: Having fun. I can't imagine anyone would like to play a game where you get shot in the gut from 400 yards and lay bleeding out for 10 or 15 minutes.

Because let's be honest, games are about escape. Games are about doing things you normally couldn't, or wouldn't do. And games are about fun. Some guys love the Mil-Sim games, and I'm one of them. But there is a limit, isn't there? Do we put in sprained ankles from falls? Broken legs? Blurred vision from sweat?

And there are somethings we just can't experience in games, no matter the technology. The weight of your field pack, the rough, uneven terrain underfoot, and the texture of the blood-soaked bandage that you're trying to hold over the massive hemorrhaging wound of your squad-mate and best friend.

What do you think?
You think Realistic games should be more realistic?
Should we push every boundary that stands in our way?
Or should we step back from going too far?

Let me know!


  1. Another amazing cast. I tried Flashpoint, and I really didn't enjoy it. running... running... running... try to figure out which button is aim... die. Yeah, all that. Games are really just fun, and they don't need to be realistic at all.

    Thanks for doing such great casts!

  2. I am now afraid for nuns. everywhere.

    But seriously, games should be less realistic. all these "ultra-realisitc" games are not even close to as much fun as some others out there. And by that I mean Minecraft.

    Great cast. looking forward to the next one

  3. Provided the realism doesn't hamper the fun of something, if it's not aiming to be hyper-realistic in the first place, there should be no problem. Though of course sometimes it gets thrown in with no regard to how well it actually plays.
    There's a little thing called acceptable breaks from reality (look it up on TVTropes if you don't anything to do for the next day or so of your life) that are put in so the games are fun to play. That's only if you're trying to give some vague resemblance of realism however, if you're just going completely mad with everything so it doesn't really all that much sense anyway, but you can still make it fun, I'm all for that.