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How Realistic Do Gamers Want Their Games To Get?

Illustration for article titled How Realistic Do Gamers Want Their Games To Get?

In today's Speak-Up on Kotaku, commenter Matt_Twombly ponders the advanced realism coming in games like Rockstar's L.A. Noire. When do games become too real?


Reading the latest editorial on L.A. Noire got me thinking: How realistic do gamers actually want their games?

There is all this talk this generation of immersion and games' capacity to captivate the player. A mechanism often attributed to this is realism and a great story. But how realistic is a game when your character ends up killing literally hundreds of people throughout a campaign?


What I'm trying to say is, doesn't the story of a game like Red Dead, lose realism when you're killing 30+ outlaws while clearing a single hideout? Marston, our hero, is literally a mass murderer. Admittedly, I wouldn't want it any other way. Gunplay was what made that game so much fun. But this brings me to question Rockstar's next release. How realistic will it be if the player ends up killing dozens of gangsters while raiding a hideout? How many shootouts in the streets of LA would it take before a police chief suspends a detective's badge? Shouldn't it take just as many bullets to kill a detective as it would to kill a gangster? Wouldn't a detective have some moral difficulties with killing even one man?

Games have always required some degree of a suspension of disbelief. With Rockstar pioneering a new technology of facial animation, they are ultimately trying to lessen that degree. So should gameplay mechanics (like killing hundreds) follow suit?

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Three things:

First - This is primarily a detective game, so you really shouldn't expect to be running around shooting people. Obviously, a detective killing somebody before they're even a suspect just doesn't fit this game type. Maybe, maybe you'll have to kill a single person in self defense at the very end of a case, after the guy knows he's caught. Honestly, the game really wouldn't make sense with lots of killing.

Second - This game is largely intended to mirror detective (noir) movies, which are primarily live-action. Therefore, if the game had 100% realistic visuals, it would still be perfectly "realistic" if said detective movies did involve lots of killing. Now, as previously mentioned, these movies tend not to have mass killing, so it would be "unrealistic," but solely because it wouldn't be correctly matching its source.

Third - This article seems to be comparing graphical quality with a suspension of disbelief. How many people are killed in 300? How realistic are the graphics of that movie? With the exception of the occasional artistic scene, that movie is, too, graphically realistic. How many people had trouble believing the thousands upon thousands of deaths in 300? Likely not many. So I don't see why, if a game looked completely realistic, it should follow that its content also be completely realistic. Movies have already trained us to believe in the unbelievable. Games are no exception.