The Importance of Realism in Video Games (or lack thereof)

Quick! Name some of your favorite video games!

Some may stick with the good ol’ stand-bys of long-gone days when life was simpler and games were simpler and your joy in playing was simpler. Mario. Classic Zelda games. Pokemon. Ah, the good ol’ days when you could be fully healed by walking into a town or finishing a level. When your Pidgeot would fly you from Cerulean to Pewter, or whatever. Realism wasn’t the focus. Living a fun little fantasy was.

Others may favor the hyper-realistic games of now, like Bioshock or Skyrim, with beautiful graphics and a detailed, textured world. The Amnesia series takes it to another level by being completely first-person, monitoring your character’s vital signs, and mechanism of chase by the monsters.

Still, even some of the more realistic games feature the fantastic: Diablo 3, PoE and many others have waypoints to save the player the frustration of running over the same terrain every time he dies or completes a quest. Several games don’t have a night/day system and even more, make you plant several vital shots into your enemy before he dies. Or one of your party dies… and then your throw a potion on him and he recovers. Save points. Guards that lose interest in chasing you after three minutes.

But wildly cartoony video games can (obviously) get away with a lot more. Super Meat Boy, for example, is the story of… a little slab of meat… that runs, jumps, and sticks to walls to avoid landing on giant, rotating saws.

Does the style of our video game aid or hinder our intentions with it?

Really, having throw-back graphics is pretty great. It enables us to focus less on the visual graphics and more on the story. We can make more visual jokes – and even the unrealistic aspects of gameplay can feel overall more authentic than an ultra-realistic game can with the same aspects. We more readily accept the game-logic bits – just as we accept cartoon antics more when drawn than when acted.

Still, we have real-world features. We have metered time. Weather conditions. Medicine. Player choices. But overall, the game is focused less on making you feel like you’re living in the real world with events that could actually happen and more like you have your own little open-world map to explore.

Anyways, what kind of games do you prefer? What are some of your favorites?

What Can I Get for You? (A Word on Shops)

I bet if you thought really hard all the way back to the 90s, to sitting on the couch maybe with a friend or your siblings, playing Ocarina of Time, you could still hear that familiar chime in your head as you enter a shop (de dededede duhhh, da da da da da da dadadada duhhhh, da da da da da dadadada duhhhhhh, de dadadada dedade… something like that). And really, what RPG is complete without a shop or vendor or hobo who happens to collect medpacs?

Yeah, like that guy. Btw, this image is clearly not ours.

Yeah, like that guy. Btw, this image is clearly not ours.

And some of the shops are really pretty fun.

Yeah, like this one... the image of which is also not mine.

Yeah, like this one… the image of which is also not mine.

But all in all, I don’t know that I liked getting items from shops as much as I liked just finding them. I mean… the Master Sword wouldn’t be all that cool if it were something you just bought for like 10000000 rupees, right?

The game loses a little fun for me when all the best items are ones that I have to shop for.

Games like various Zelda titles do kind of have a median – you have to find the best items through questing, then after finding and thus unlocking the item, it becomes something purchasable in stores. That makes for a nice middle-ground: you gain your sense of accomplishment in unlocking said item while avoiding the irritation of unlocking a really b/a item, using it up because it’s so fantastic, and then never finding any again because who really just finds stuff in the bushes? (You know… besides for Link)

A bit I liked in Path of Exile, though, was that rather than straight-up buying items, you really more… bartered for them. That’s a more realistic practice for many games, and it makes more sense.

In The Lotus War, I do believe there will be currency, and I believe that many of your items can be bought. However, I hope to blend in a few features of newer games. For example, I hope that using items found in the world, the character or his party can synthesize more useful items. Synthesized items would sell for more at the shops and vendors.

More than that, however, I look forward to the questing that will lead players to all the cool gear.

What do you prefer? Shops from which you can buy anything – even buying better gear than what can be found – or the necessity of questing to gain the top gear?