Some games use realism to connect with players, but too much reality can ruin the experience.
Games like Modern Warfare 2 rely on realistic settings and weapons to more fully immerse the player in the experience, but as James Portnow explains in this week’s issue of The Escapist, there’s reality, and then there’s the fun version of reality. The trick to designing an entertaining game is recognizing the disappointing parts of the real world:
Low points can be roughly sorted into two categories: the genuinely un-fun and the unsatisfying. Genuinely un-fun experiences are the purview of reality and have no place in games. For example, talk to any World War II veteran that served in the infantry, and they’ll tell you all about the marching. They spent 90 percent of their time walking to places and 10 percent fighting, and yet, for all the World War II games I’ve played, none of them includes a single march.
So designers find themselves faced with creating a delicate balance between recognizable, real-world elements and the fantasy that is the core of any gaming experience. This, says Portnow, is where Method Design comes in, which can add satisfying realism even to “werewolf zombie space shooters.” Which, by the way, I would totally play.
To learn more about what Method Design is, check out Method and Madness.