Realism, Expectations, and the Fidelity Contract in VR Design
Adrienne Hunter

Ah, that old word. Realism.

I’m going to go on a bit of a rant, please excuse me.

It is not what you think it is, it is not what you think people ask for or want.

People think people want realism or people themselves think they want realism.

But when game developers for example add realism, people complain that it is not fun, it is boring and they also blame developers for putting so much focus on graphics over gameplay.

Gameplay. Or, the simulation and mechanics that provide plausible and understood representations of humane thought. Now THAT is what people ask for and why it is also why we run into bizarre situations where a Simulation would be fun to use. Surely a ‘physics simulation’ should be the most boring thing ever? Well turns out people like banging things together, seeing fun and unexpected chemistry, even if some of the interactions are fantasy and ‘unrealistic’.

No, people could care less about reality. We had several decades of 2D design and UI/UX to finally overcome this and start concentrating on the simulation and mechanic aspects, e.g. Material Design, you know, the fun stuff.

Game reviewer like TotalBiscuit have also given us a lot of insight into the more immersive realm of software applications and how people react to, enjoy or want in games.

We need to combine both of these worlds if we want to understand what we really need in VR and what people really want.

Okay, onto the practical, there’s a lot of super powers from games we can use in VR or AR, such as the waypoint compass from Skyrim, or the Witcher’s Sense from Witcher 3. And if we take the game reviewers advice: How do you turn a decent game into a great game? Easy. Steal gameplay ideas/mechanics and refine them, improve them, make them better than before.

For VR to work, we need to steal eachothers ideas and make them better. And there’s a lot of really great ideas that could be improved already. Or even ideas taken from the 2D UI world or the game dev world and then made better.

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