Guest Writer: The Drive for Realism

We at TSA are always open to receiving guest pieces from the community. Today’s offering comes from the keyboard of Burgess_101, who seems to be a bit angry about the current drive for realism in games.

I was talking to one of my friends about “The Darkness II” about how amazing it was and how “badass” it makes you feel. Anyone that has played the game will know exactly what I mean. He asked me what it was about, so rather than describe it I thought what better way to explain it then to show him a video. After I had shown him this video he told me it looked terrible. “Why?” I asked and the reason he gave me sums up a lot of criticism that seems to appear nowadays.

He told me it wasn’t realistic enough. Now I’ll give you guys some time to remove palms from faces. I don’t normally associate this specific friend with my others that only play FIFA or COD, so this answer threw me off big time.

[drop]This got me thinking about the current state of gaming. There are some truly great games out there that are being shunned for being imaginative. How many now prefer a short military story (if you can call it that) glorifying Americans (read COD/BF3) to the fantasy realm of Skyrim? I know it can depend on who you’re with, how much time you have etc. but  the sales figures seem to show that the majority of gamers would rather sit down with an FPS, just look at the sales figures of Call of Duty or Battlefield.

It’s not just sales figures either, there’s a general attitude amongst consumers as well. My friends have clearly shown this by taking the mick out of me for saying I would rather go around with awesome devil tentacles dual wielding UZIs, than be a macho clichéd soldier. Why? Because you cant be a badass demon in real life and that’s it. Or because I play games they have never heard of before.

Basically I feel people think realism equals a great game. The amount of times I have heard people say COD is more realistic than BF3 or vice versa is ridiculous.People seem to have lost their imagination and forgotten what gaming is all about. Escaping from the trials and tribulations of the real world. Bad day at work? Become engrossed in another world and forget all about it for a while. Whats the point of throwing yourself back into the same world?

I dont hate COD or Battlefield at all, in fact I play them quite a bit myself. FIFA I play loads of (mostly with friends). Sometimes you want to shoot virtual people in the face. I understand. Sometimes you want to score a 30 yard volley with Emile Heskey. I understand. Just broaden your horizons. Take a risk on a different game. I did just that recently with Rayman: Origins. I never really enjoyed platformers before because I’m awful at them, but it turned out to be one of the best games I have played in a long time.

If things stay the way they are, we will end up with just the same ‘Modern Battlefield World War V: Terrrorists Return’ because that is what sells and individual games like The Darkness, Heavy Rain and so many others, will just be swept under the carpet and forgotten of; ridiculed for their individualities.

I certainly don’t want that but as they say, money talks.



  1. Hmmmm when it comes to shooters to be honest I want them to be as real as it comes. However that’s not to say I dislike the fantastic realms that people create. Stuff like Darkness II is imaginative and fun to play and does not need realism because it isn’t in the slightest.

    • I think it depends on the art style the studio was aiming for. If, like many FPS games, that is realism then I think it is fair to comment whether they have reached that goal. I also believe that other genres should aim for more defined artistic styling, deploying methods other than realism to impress the player, and should maintain a set of laws for the game-world, in order to keep the player connected to the action.

  2. Nice read. Cant think of anything to say other than *facepalm*.

  3. Im similar to Death_In_Flamez here, with a shooter, I want realism.

    In the original uncharted at the end with the demon things it kinda annoyed me how it went from so realistic to… Yeah. I guess this is also why I didnt play Crysis 2 more than an hour, invisibility and such, no thanks…

    Though in an open world environment like skyrim, who cares, I want dragons bigger and bad ass’er than the last one I slay, there is a realism about it, thats is from another world.

    I dont think Darkness is imaginitive at all, you’re just a demon instead of a human, if im honest, I dont remember much about it, I played the original (Briefly) and it was just annoying, there is no way to describe why I dont like it, I dont know why I dont like it, it just puts me off games for some reason.

    • On second thoughts, i did enjoy the original Resistance, but that is the only exception to an unrealistic FPS i can think of that i have enjoyed.

      • I enjoyed singularity… Personally I thought it was underrated and as for resistance, I think I play that just because it is on the PS3 like I do Halo for the Xbox. But both halo and resistance in my opinion have both shuffled down my games piles after each release, they just seem to get worse (off topic)

        But anyway, I want the games I play to be realistic if they are supposed to be going down that avenue, but I don’t expect other games to be if that is not their intention, we all game to get away from the real world anyway. Its like a release for me personally anyway. So I see nothing wrong in something completely outright stupid which would never happen, as long as its fun to play and aesthetically pleasing lol.

  4. Great read! Some of my friends are like the ones you describe. As I play a wide range of games and sometimes go for some they have never heard of before e.g. Demons Souls, Enslaved, Heavy Rain etc. They immediately say its crap and shun it away. Not because its not realistic but because its not COD or FIFA.
    Its these games that I like, which are completely imaginative and have an engaging story – the latter is how I go about buying games. I dont tend to think about realism in a game. There are many cases where I want it to be more realistic. For example, when I came from MotorStorm PR and then played a bit of MS Apocalypse. Its hard to take when a gritty, brutal and somewhat realistic racer has become an arcade mash up (in my opinion that is) – I want it changed back!
    With every war FPS I want more realism, after playing MOH reboot the harsh reality of war was apparent in the story and gameplay. I would like to see this put into a COD title instead of the generic arcade type shooter.
    Its just for me more realistic games help you engage with them more. Sure I like a fantasy game where imagination runs wild but it wouldn’t beat a hands ons realistic shooter any day.

  5. Realism can go get shot I say. Most of the best games I have played require me to suspend belief for a while and that is the way I want it to stay.

    Just take next weeks SSX for example. Would it be better if it was as realistic as it could possibly be? Forget uber tricks, boosting, big air, grinding rails on mountains, and Eddie Watchowski’s hair

    Also, as a student architect I love good environments in games but not necessarily believable ones. I remember a PS2 game called Oni. Part of the marketing hype was that real architects had designed the environments. What a disappointment, some of the most banal and uninspiring levels in a game. At least find some architects with a bit of imagination, or at least ones who play and understand games.

  6. NO! Destroy all realism! im fed up of seeing people ignite the worlds worst flame wars over the muzzle flare of an m4a1, im sick and tired of debating the handling of a Lotus Evora or arguing whether the way trees behave in breeze is immersion breaking.
    Games should be one part ridiculous and the other gameplay, its all about escapism and whilst ive spent my fair time shooting people in the face i find it gets more and more disturbing the more realistic the blood spatter becomes.
    Im fairly convinced that if games became photo-realistic that playing a modern warfare FPS will be the social equivalent of strangling kittens.
    so in summary, more acid trip platformers and games like Minecraft and Dwarf Fortress and less of the faux-realistic brown shooters please.

  7. I’m a big fan of fantasy stuff when it comes to games. It’s no surprise that Final Fantasy is my favourite franchise because of that. In fantasy games you can come up with so many cool things because you are not bound by the laws of realism. You mentioned Skyrim. I’d say Skyrim is a pretty realistic game in the rows of fantasy games. So even within the fantasy camp you can have more realistic approaches compared to fantasy fantasy games where you can jump up 10 meters to hit a huge monster or you suddenly pull out a huge hammer mid-combo. I tend to prefer the fantasy fantasy games.

  8. Clearly there’s a place for both fantasy and realism in gaming. Realistic games sell, the money produced can be used to produce games with a little more imagination.

    I don’t like people slaying cod, bf or FIFA, just because they’re the biggest sellers. If we didn’t have the big sellers there would be no industry.

    Of course there are people who are only interested in cod, FIFA, bf etc. Let them be. Enjoy what you like and let them enjoy what they like.

    • I’d agree with this although I will say that I feel like this generation, there’s been a lack of balance between fantasy and realism and I tend to lean more to the fantasy side so I haven’t been quite so captivated with my games compared with the PS2 era and previously.

  9. i like a little bit of both=) and i play a little bit of both…
    but a game doesn’t have to be more “realistic” just because it’s a FPS. Skyrim should be played in first person (my opinion) and that game is not “realistic”…

  10. A realistic game is a controversy of terms. Take Bf3, labelled as one of the most realistic shooters ever. However, in real life you have no HUD, can’t respawn, can’t take that many bullets, don’t know how many you have left in a clip, don’t mysteriously regain bullets left in a clip you are removing, can’t just teleport into a vehicle, can’t sprint forever etc. etc. Therefore realism in a game would be stupid and more realistic games aren’t very good as they will start to either take into account these effects which would start to ruin them or will be laughably unrealistic.
    Also it depends on the game as to whether “unrealism” or “realism” is better.

    • Idiot: contradiction of terms… :( Yet more evidence for an edit button.

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