Is this the real life?

As an industry that moves forward with technology, video gaming advances in sophistication very rapidly. In 1980 Pac-Man was the height of gaming, a 2D yellow blob eating smaller yellow blobs in a maze whilst being chased by ghost shapes. 20 years later, the Sims allowed us to take complete control over a character’s life. Now we have games with open worlds, morals, communities of real people playing together and Pac-Man playable on our already obsolete mobile phones. One of the industries greatest strengths is its ability to adopt the latest technology and push it to produce fantastic entertainment. But, while the advancement of technology is seemingly infinite, is there a point in the advancement of video games that will be too far?

Morals have been finding their way into games lately. At the moment they tend not to be greatly developed. Actions are either good or bad leaving no grey area; your character can either be a hero or a villain, but we can assume that morals will play a bigger and more developed role in the future . In current games, however, I find it hard to be the bad guy. I know the villains always have the best weapons and powers but I just can’t bring myself to be that much of a dick. As the industry advances this is only going to get worse, with more excruciating decisions, maybe making games more difficult to play. Realism is something that games seem to aim for but I don’t believe that is why we play games.

It doesn’t end with morals either, advancement in graphics could be an even bigger problem. Quantic Dream’s Heavy Rain has one particularly difficult point where you have to cut off your character’s finger. It is amazing that a game can immerse you to the point where you have an emotional response, but how much is too much? Heavy Rain is not the most graphically accomplished game but perhaps that’s a good thing; if it was too realistic then it might be difficult to play.

How did you chop?

There are a number problems that could arise if games become too realistic. Arguments around violence in games could gain momentum (perhaps rightly so) and gamers might be alienated from newer systems because games hit too close to home. Can you imaging playing a Call of Duty where your character looks real and you have to kill AI that looks real? I think that such a game would be unsaleable. But does that mean that at some point the games industry will reach a plateau where no technical advancements are made? Perhaps, but it’s more likely that the industry will have to evolve, changing the type of games it makes and the type of style it uses in visuals. No one plays games purely for their realism; in 1980 Pac-Man was the height of gaming and it is still played and loved today. Games should first and foremost be enjoyable experiences and let’s hope that as they become more sophisticated they don’t lose sight of that.

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2 thoughts on “Is this the real life?

  1. Hey man, enjoying the blog so far. I agree with your point about games being for the sake of enjoyment, and that more realism isn’t necessarily wanted. But I think it’s important to stress a major factor that comes into making an enjoyable game, and that’s its escapism. We often crave the feeling of being transported or immersed in another world, such as in reading a book or watching a film. So surely “escaping” to a fantasy world – where morals are clear-cut and transparent, and where no matter what we do, our actions never have any real consequences – is the ultimate gaming experience? I guess the flip-side is escapism to a world as similar to ours as possible, but where we can “start from scratch” and re-create ourselves and those around us as we want them. Which one is more desirable? Hard to say; I suppose it depends on your reasons for gaming, your satisfaction with reality, and your imagination and creativity. But a game’s ability to mimic reality will always be a measure of its technological achievements and cunningness of design, so perhaps we’ll always see a progression in this domain.

    • Hey!, I completely agree with you on escapism, entering a world for a short time to ignore the real one is a major factor. What worries me is that the fake world will not be so desirable if it becomes too real. Writing in games is getting much better and more and more games are provoking an emotional response to a character or situation which has made games really interesting but leaves them open to hitting a bit too close to home.

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