Realism in Games / Blood & Gore in Games

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I make a huge distinction between "real" and "realistic", and many people I know make the same distinction. For me, if something is "real" then it really is "real" and in "real life", whereas something that is "realistic" is not in real life but has many qualities of real life things to it (e.g. gravity, momentum, appearance, behavior, etc). Maybe it's a misuse of the word, but if so then I don't think any other word fits.
So a "realistic" game is one that looks like and shares physical properties with the real world? Does this make games in the Halo franchise realistic? If not what game(s) do you think are realistic?
Realism in games refer to one of two things (art, ie. human characters rather than a bugeyed ball rolling around; real locales and objects rather than being Dwerb exploring the world of Dragok) and parts of the mechanics. Realism in games usually means things like having to downshift, brake, or slow down to make a corner or reload a gun after X number of shots (like you would with the real world counterpart). Last I checked I couldn't shoot lightning from my hands (Cole, Infamous), run on walls (Mirror's Edge), take out a huge mech single handed (Metal Gear/Metal Gear Solid) so all games do help you escape reality.

As for the blood & gore, sure they go overboard, but this goes back to the old study of a car crash. Several groups of people were shown two crashes, one with the original sound and then a second one with tweaked audio. Then they asked each group what crash they thought was worse. Truth was it was the same controlled crash, but each group said the one with modified sound was the worse crash. Same principle is applied to games (and movies for that matter), the extreme of each makes it have more impact for the player as they go through the game and further separates it from being reality. Look at Mortal Kombat, when you do a fatality there is a lot of blood and usually several limbs or torsos when a person only has one torso. The whole point is *shock* value but it usually gets old quicker than the rest of the game, IMO.
myesolar wrote:
All you seem to be describing is a certain genre of game


I'm describing tropes that are common to most video games.

If you that's the kind of shit you want to play, there's Dayz. Gameplay over anything else, as always. Games don't have to look realistic to have a good art style


I like how you judge the games I play as shit when I gave absolutely no indication of the games I like to play.

I've never heard of "Dayz" but a quick google search suggests its a zombie apocalypse game -- no thanks.

Super Mario wouldn't be as fun if it was "realistic".


I agree.

Any number of games that aren't (your definition of) "realistic" (games) would be utter crap.


"My" definition is "the" definition. Look it up in a dictionary.

And yes.. I agree a realistic game would be lame. Which probably explains why none exist.



LB wrote:
I make a huge distinction between "real" and "realistic", and many people I know make the same distinction.


"real" is something that has happened.
"realistic" is something that could happen.

Nothing in <insert non-sports video game here> could happen in real life. Ergo, they're not realistic.

I was never really a fan of people making up new meanings for words. It's confusing. And quite frankly... I still don't know what your definition of realistic is. If you can give me an example game, that might help.

whereas something that is "realistic" is not in real life but has many qualities of real life things to it (e.g. gravity, momentum, appearance, behavior, etc).


So pretty much every platformer ever made?

Super Mario Bros had gravity, momentum, and Mario looked reasonably human for the time.

Prince of Persia for the SNES even had all those things:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lapWJZwimCc

Yet that game is extremely unrealistic.
Disch wrote:
Nothing in <insert non-sports video game here> could happen in real life. Ergo, they're not realistic.

While that is true of non-sports games, I can actually think of one sports game that that applies (Midway's NFL Blitz; had real NFL players, real NFL plays, but wouldn't really see a player powerbomb an opponent and not get penalized for it).
Nothing in <insert non-sports video game here> could happen in real life. Ergo, they're not realistic.

I was never really a fan of people making up new meanings for words. It's confusing. And quite frankly... I still don't know what your definition of realistic is. If you can give me an example game, that might help.
How about "a realistic game is one that only makes Acceptable Breaks from Reality"? So, while being able to heal twelve bullets to the chest within ten seconds is completely impossible, we can still call the game "realistic" if other aspects are portrayed with sufficient faithfulness to their real counterparts.
Most importantly, though, I think the term is mean to contrast the overall design goals of the game vs. those of, say, a game where you play as an alien that sticks buildings to a magic ball by rolling it against them.
LB: in your original post you said
Yet, I see people enjoy hyper-realistic games just fine.
Could you give an example?
helios wrote:
How about "a realistic game is one that only makes Acceptable Breaks from Reality"?


Do you see the irony in that statement? A game is realistic if it takes breaks from reality...

But I get what you mean. So okay.


That said... I wonder if those same Acceptable Breaks from Reality would allow other forms of media to be considered "realistic". Like the movie Die Hard. Nothing supernatural in that. McClaine didn't carry around lots of gear... he never got fatally wounded... and his injuries actually did worsen his performance later in the film (limping after his feet got cut up from the glass, etc).

So would you guys consider Die Hard a "realistic" movie? It certainly is more realistic than even the most "realistic" video game I've ever seen.

At what point does this term lose all its meaning?

Most importantly, though, I think the term is mean to contrast the overall design goals of the game vs. those of, say, a game where you play as an alien that sticks buildings to a magic ball by rolling it against them.


Katamari FTW.

So basically... any game that doesn't involve fictional worlds or magic? Seems pretty broad to me.
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So basically... any game that doesn't involve fictional worlds or magic? Seems pretty broad to me.
Well, sort of, but trying to narrow it down further turn the question into "how many grains of sand make a heap of sand?" Truth be told, "realistic" is as well-defined as "big". It's possible to set a well-defined requirement for realism, but then that turns the problem into getting people to agree on something.
I do love how threads evolve into breaking everything up into the nitty gritty details it makes for interesting reading.
Since the crux of this thread seems to be game design choices I think I'll put in my two cents.

Realism: This is one of those terms that makes me cringe when I read it in a game review. It actually meant something at one point and it was a genuine point to critique a game about. But then some idiot children got a hold of it and started throwing it around when they didn't like some arbitrary aspect of a game or when their grand master plan that would break the balance of the game didn't work. Unfortunately for the rest of us, some of these idiot children grew up to become idiot bloggers and now have their own legion of other troglodytes that now influence the games that are coming out on the market with their parents money.

For me, the suspension of disbelief in a video game is not difficult. I will happily immerse myself in a world where people throw fireballs and lightning bolts at each other or fight dragons like in Skyrim. This is because the world is coherent and these things are all an excepted part of it. What does bother me however is how in some other game a knee high pile of midden, or a two foot hole in the floor is used as a level boundary just because the designers decided to make the jumping mechanism context sensitive. Then ten minutes later you're expected to know that you have to jump off of a roof, across an alley and onto the next building in order to progress to the next area. These inconsistencies in game play are what it used to mean when we said a game was unrealistic. Using visual\audio cue's to help mitigate these breaks in game flow has become the excepted "fix" by the morons that be but is just lazy design.

Gore: I probably have an unusual view on this topic, partly because I am American and partly because I'm not turned away by blood and gore in real life*. Let's look at the infamous character death sequences in Dead Space 1 & 2 (exclude the abomination that was 3 for the sake of this argument) I see this as the designers simply pouring salt on the wound of your failure. They want you to know that when you die, your character is not just left there at the bottom of a hole to decompose, he is instead brutally chopped up and ripped into little pieces while he is still screaming. It makes you feel sorry for him and care just a little bit more about the actor and amount of damage he is taking. To me this is the next artistic progression from adding "screams" when a character gets hurt. The whole thing with "Strategic Dismemberment" is really to add a degree of difficulty to the game, just like how shooting an opponents flashing vulnerable spot is withe certain other titles. I agree some of the titles take the degree of gore over the top (I happen to like the MK franchise but I won't try to defend it) but this mechanism can serve a purpose.


*:I don't think this is because I'm desensitized to violence, I just think that my natural curiosity about how the body works overrides my revulsion of looking at the injury. I'd imagine it's the same thing doctors or surgeons feel but I've never really been interested in medicine. I remember when I was a kid I cut the top of my hand really bad (I still have an ugly scar there) and I was so interested in watching the tendons move that I put off covering it with a bandage as long as I could; in hind sight it should have been about five stitches.
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I was so interested in watching the tendons move
Gah! My brain was just passing through this sentence and then it was like this word came out of nowhere and kicked it in its brain-gonads.

I suspect most people are not really turned away by gore, they just pretend to be to put up a facade of decency. It's the whole reason why "rubbernecking" is a word.
@ helios: I think the worst part of your response is that I still don't know where I went wrong grammatically :,(
I like how you judge the games I play as shit when

That's what the "if" in that statement is for, i don't know what you play but if that is what you play then that would be the response i would have given :).

"My" definition is "the" definition. Look it up in a dictionary.

And yes.. I agree a realistic game would be lame. Which probably explains why none exist.

Indeed the definition of real is not disputed but you are only looking at the gameplay aspects of a game. As you pointed out it would be completely boring to play a game as such, when i say realistic game i think graphically as having a realistic playing game would just be preposterous. (realistic in your sense being doing day to day chores, vehicle maintenance in COD as an example, instead of being realistic in the sense that a triangle doesn't roll down a flat piece of terrain).
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@ helios: I think the worst part of your response is that I still don't know where I went wrong grammatically :,(
No, there's nothing wrong with it, besides the automatic empathic response it triggers.
closed account (j3Rz8vqX)
"uncanny valley".
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uncanny_valley

There are many shades in the level of realism.
Try playing Rust Disch.

Anyway, I personally am not offended by blood and gore in real life, but it certainly does get on my nerves when I'm playing a game and there is excessive blood and gore. Sure, it may have been cool when I was younger, but after a while it just gets childish and repulsive.
closed account (z0My6Up4)
For me games are definately a good way to relax and escape reality. But i find there is only a need to have an approximation to reality. For example games like Rainbow Six Vegas or Madden NFL don't have graphics or behaviour that is real, but they are pretty close.

In the future, i'm sure that games will be developed that look as crystal clear as a tv movie and think that this will be a positive step for gamers. Instead of an approximation of reality the game will look totally real. The closer one gets to a reality that one can manipulate and control is surely a worthy aim in my view.
Sorry for not responding to this thread for so long, I've been thinking deeply on the replies (and still am)
Lachlan Easton wrote:
LB: in your original post you said "Yet, I see people enjoy hyper-realistic games just fine." Could you give an example?
Skyrim, and many others. Like I said, my use of the word "realistic" is very different from my use of the word "real". There are dragons in Skyrim, but dragons aren't real - even so, they are pretty realistic dragons.

I am getting the sense that it's misusing the word but I don't know a better word to use instead.
Skyrim, and many others
Why do some people actually enjoy realism in games despite the fact that they're trying to escape it?
I'd argue that Skyrim is about as massive an escape from reality as you can get. The entire universe is fantasy, from its inhabitants, its flora, its lore, magic, ghosts, vampires, werewolves, trolls, dragons, cat people, water breathing lizard people, dwarven robots, underground cities, mad gods of all sorts, doors to hell (Oblivion), and a crapload of other completely made up creatures and lore. When people play a video game to escape, they generally aren't trying to escape from what reality looks and sounds like, they're trying to escape from the things that happen in reality.
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