Believability In Video Games

Your front-flipping-demigod of a character can't get over the two foot high wall. Who's fault is that?

A scientist taking on legions of trained marines with body armor, a network of communication, and coming out practically unscathed. This is not the latest Bond movie but the gameplay of Half-Life.

What is the realm of believability in video games? 

For me, a video game or a movie should suck you in to the plot and refuse to let you go until it is over. It depends on how serious the game is trying to be. Games like Uncharted are meant to be silly and fun. It never takes itself too seriously. You expect Uncharted to be this Indiana Jones type game with artifacts of unknown origins and powers. Other games like Tomb Raider or The Last of Us are a serious take on life. I know a few people who said they could not get into the game because of no day/night cycle. To them this is an error that the developers should have solved when they created the game. 

A good game should suspend your disbelief for the moment you play it. A game like Legend of Zelda gives Link the power of courage, therefore the ability to overcome obstacles--the use of cinematics pushes this idea further, but that's because it doesn't overwrite what the character and player want/do.

Who is at fault?

Is there a fault? Basing on my personal gaming history, I would say both the player and gameplay. Batman: Arkham Origins is a decent game. There were some clipping issues and gameplay mechanics that need to be worked out. Once early in the game I had an issue with clipping where you had to board Penguin's ship. As any Arkham fan should know, you found the highest point to survey your surroundings. I climbed up the mast and took out the sniper. As I go to perch on the railing, Batman starts to clip out. What? The first thing to run though my mind is this is Batman, he should not do this. Should I be blaming the gameplay, even though the gameplay is my choice?

There is blame to go around. 

Sometimes you have to pretend you didn't see that waist-high wall your acrobatic that your front-flipping-demigod of a character can't climb over. Sometimes you've got to forget about that 3-foot-deep puddle your character can't wade through. Game makers cannot be expected to create an entire real world in every game they release. There must be limitations. As long as the game is fun or interesting in some way, I can sometimes ignore that stuff pretty easily. Sure it doesn't always make sense, but doing it more realistically could probably make for a less fun game.

It does have a time and place though, something like Tomb Raider or The Last of Us, where your actions do feel realistic. I'd rather have an invisible wall in an MMO than let someone jump through an unintended opening to exploit an encounter. At the same time, it breaks the believability of the universe. 

So, what do you think? Hit me up in the comments below! Follow me on Twitter: @mxaghost.

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Believe it or not the Wizard of Oz is not at home. Please leave your name and info after the tone. Likes: Comic books, Video Games, and voice actor. Dislikes: long walks on the beach and ion cannons.

Published Feb. 3rd 2014

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