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An Ongoing Tribute to my own lameness.....

General random thoughts about gaming, both within and outside of the MMO genre.

Author: Jimmy_Scythe

Realism... O RLY?

Posted by Jimmy_Scythe Thursday May 8 2008 at 3:34PM
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Before we begin I just want you to know that I'm not going to retread the tired argument that MMORPGs are mostly fantasy games that have little in common with reality and just stick to criticizing the broader idea of realism in games. There's a small vocal minority that seems to think that games should be closer to real-life who are also impossible to please. Even if you created a peripheral that administered location accurate, mild lacerations every time their avatar was struck with a sword, it still wouldn't be "real" enough for them. Beware of these asshats because it was people just like them that killed the flight sim genre.

Most of us don't want reality in our games. We're perfectly happy with the gleefully over the top antics of Counter-Strike and the arbitrarily unrealistic play mechanics of Battlefield 2. We'd rather that the proceedings look authentic than play authentic. We love CoD4, even though we can heal from any wound in about five seconds flat, because the atmosphere feels the way we imagine a real battle would feel. We totally dig Rainbow Six Vegas for its nod to Tom Clancy authenticity even as it allows us to stand ten feet away from an enemy firing an Ak-47 and live. You see, most of us don't really want the glacial pace that results from the absolute realism of something like ArmA. We want to be HEROES who can absorb bullets like so many titanium sponges while charging forward launching flaming, exploding chainsaws out of our sniper cannons of doom!

Hell, even America's Army cuts so much slack with reality that you can employ suicidal tactics and win. If you want to play something more realistic there are things like paintball, airsoft, and the Society For Creative Anachronisms. You just can't get more real than doing something in real life. Not that I think you should join the military and do it for real that is...

And that brings me to another point about realism. You can't have it without fear. Let's take a couple of real world examples. Here's some short footage of a skirmish in Fallujah. Not exactly the same as a round of Counter-Strike is it? Here's some more CQB in a single house over in Iraq. Notice that not only is it extremely slow paced, but the soldiers actually give a damn. You simply cannot achieve that kind of tension in any simulation.

I know that some of you probably had a hard time watching that last video, but I did have a reason. The point being that even if we add a small amount of pain, nothing short of the possibility of death will make a player act in a way other than completely suicidal and unrealistic. And seriously, we don't want the experience that those soldiers were having. We don't want the experience that the pikemen at the Battle of Hastings had. We don't even want the experience that Gladiators in Rome had. We want diverting childhood power fantasies that take us as far away from reality as we can get.


Gishgeron writes:

This is all the gods honest truth here.


Thu May 08 2008 3:43PM Report
Melf_Himself writes:

Perhaps you should detail what sort of realism you find to be too much in MMO's, I'm not really sure what you're getting at.

Thu May 08 2008 6:48PM Report
JB47394 writes:

Jimmy_Scythe: "Most of us don't want reality in our games."

The funny thing is that game companies are pursuing super-duper graphics and I find that they're ruining my ability to enjoy games.  There is a point where I no longer want to see details.  I've mentioned before that I don't play Crysis because I don't want to shoot realistic-looking NPCs in the head from 200 meters away.  Far Cry was just fine, thanks.

By the way, don't discount the impact of a virtual environment.  Once we get 3D immersion (just the visual and audial), game developers are going to have to start thinking seriously about older players having heart attacks, or players going over backwards in their chair to avoid an attack.  It's going to end up in lawsuits and/or waivers.

But I do agree with the gist of your article.  The pursuit of reality is not the pursuit of entertainment.  Ask any entertainer.

Thu May 08 2008 8:16PM Report
eric_w66 writes:

I think he's saying "Fun before realism". If something is real, but sucks to endure, ditch it.

Thu May 08 2008 8:20PM Report
vajuras writes:

I dont understand Battlefield 2, CoD4, and their ilk is way more realistic then Halo 3 for example. Sure, there will be gamey elements but they still have realistic graphics, friendly fire on, military settings, etc.

That is why games like Day of Defeat are considered realistic and that crowd is for sure not a 'vocal minority'. Unless you consider the record breaking sales for CoD4 a small minority

If CoD4 isnt realistc then fine thats what we want.

So you really should go into detail why Counterstrike should be classfied the same as Unreal Tournament and Quake. PErhaps you have some controversal definition but I'm sure it is that- your personal opinion. But its not an opinion I understand.

Thu May 08 2008 9:12PM Report
vajuras writes:

Confession: I did not click on the images. I did try to read the blog but I might have missed it due to impatience and being busy. I am going to click on the images and think on this article more.

@JB47394: Make sure you read his work on "Immersion is a Lie". Maybe you are familiar with it.

But if I follow this blogger's thinking he does not feel immersed into video games. He maintains a certain level of detachment when he plays games

But i feel immersed when I play games Jimmy. Or maybe its my imagination. I am not sure what you call it. But I do feel immersed. Especially when death is so real lie in eVE. I dont mean to be a fanboi, well I am but I feel so immersed when I play. I love the LORE and I forget about real life. Sometimes i am tempted to cancel because i feel too immersed.

Anyway will think on this article. You have an interesting series going. We are on different wavelengths though so I think you will need to define your vision of "REalism" - well way you define it

Well trying to explain myself here. Hope I was clear. And I am going to think on this more because I am a little confused atm

Fri May 09 2008 12:07AM Report
Jimmy_Scythe writes:

When I'm talking about realism, I'm talking about the way the game plays. A game can look real without reflecting reality in the slightest.

Hence, healing in five seconds flat is not realistic. Standing directly in front ,and withing five feet, of a person firing an AK-47 in full auto and not getting hit once is not realistic. Still being able to walk right after being shot in the leg is not realistic. Causing a car, truck, tank, or any other vehicle to explode due to small arms fire is not realistic. The list goes on and on.

Very few people want to play a game that accurately mimics real life. We want it to look real but making it play real slows down the pace and takes away the whole reason why many of us play games. That is, to live out a particular fantasy rather than experience the raw shittyness of actual atrocity.

Hope that clarifies.

Fri May 09 2008 12:50AM Report
soulwynd writes:

I want realism. Slow paced, head blowing permanent death action. Kthx.

Fri May 09 2008 9:59AM Report
ycluk writes:

To whoever wants realism or more realism than CoD4, BF2, Counter Strike, go try Battleground Europe World War 2 Online.

Website is, this game is also on MMORPG's game list. See if you like it.

Fri May 09 2008 6:34PM Report
soulwynd writes:

Being historical doesn't make it realistic.

Fri May 09 2008 7:34PM Report
Shoko_Lied writes:

I am sure BF2 or COD4 would become MUCH more realist Instantly if we added extra incentive like say.... A man behind the player with a gun behind there head saying, Dont F*ck up or ur dead meat boy.

Sat May 10 2008 12:11AM Report writes:
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