Gamers Write
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Gamers Write

Why Would We Want Realistic Videogames?

For some reason ever since I was born, I’ve heard an odd complaint about videogames. I often hear people say that they’re not realistic, or ask “why play a videogame when you can go outside instead?” The weirdest comment I hear is when someone who doesn’t understand watches someone play a videogame and then points out that something that happened in the game “wasn’t realistic.” I’ve got to ask when was the purpose of a videogame to be “realistic?”

From the ancient days of gaming, Pac-Man wasn’t realistic, Mario wasn’t realistic, and very few games have ever actually strived to be realistic. Playing a videogame has never been about trying to replicate real life. The only time a videogame has been made to replicate real life is when doing that thing in real life is either extremely impractical, or dangerous. For example, simulation racing games and military simulation games. However, even these games cut some corners for the sake of time. People often see a game like Call of Duty, Battlefield, or Need for Speed, see just how realistic the graphics are, and hear the amazingly realistic sound effects. But seem to completely miss the point that these games have very simple arcade-style controls. I promise that every game ever has never strived to completely replicate real life. Instead, video games take inspiration from real life and the developers then tweak reality to fit into the medium and make it more fun.

Even with the latest and most immersive gaming experience, virtual reality (VR) doesn’t strive for complete realism. I love this game called Onward, it technically falls under the category of being a military simulator. You are equipped with realistic weapons that function just like real weapons and you have a few other pieces of gear and your squad is on a mission to clear an area of enemies or to evacuate an area with as few casualties as possible. However, when you or a teammate get injured, you don’t have to do CPR or wrap them up with bandages or use your rifle as a crutch. No, of course not cause that would slow the pace of the game and be really inconvenient. You will move slower if injured or be laying on the ground dying, but in order to be healed, your teammate simply needs to poke you with a needle that instantly heals you. It’s not realistic, but in VR the simple act of bending down and pulling out a needle to help your friend, get’s the point across. The most high-end VR experience right now is probably a game called Half-Life: Alyx. This is a sci-fi combat and puzzle-solving game, but to make the game less tedious the game gives you “gravity gloves” which let you select a small object like a pop can or a gun and with a flick of your wrist, pulls the item to you and you can catch it with ease. It’s not realistic, but it makes doing many miscellaneous tasks more bearable and actually really fun.

Lastly, I want to address the idea of “why not just go outside and play.” This is pretty silly because in real life I don’t own a spaceship and I’m not at war with an army of killer robots. Also in real life, I don’t want to be at war. We can’t do 99% of the things in a video game, in real life. Even things that are very similar to video games still aren’t the same experience. And finally, doing things in real life won’t allow me and my friends to instantly connect to a whole new world, with its own laws of physics, its own story, history, and more, just to kill one another and then between moments of tension, let me pick up a mug of tea next to me and enjoy a sip.

Gaming has the ability to be the most fun, most frustrating, most difficult, most social, most stressful, most relaxing, most engaging, and most therapeutic hobby all at the same time. I am looking forward to full-body VR where I can run, jump, crawl, and climb in a realistic video game. But unlike in real life, I want to be in deadly combat without the risk of actually dying. So I ask the question, why in the world would anyone want video games to be like real life? Let me shoot Nazis one second and sip my tea the next.



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