Realism vs Fun

in Design

One thing I’ve noticed in video games, as the systems they are on have become more and more powerful, there has been an urge to create more and more realistic games.

And realism can be good! In the right places, at the right doses, in the right game.

But, sometimes, it feels like games insert “realism” into games where it doesn’t fit.

Not the world of gritty realism (RPG Maker DS Resource Pack! On Sale until 9/6/2017!)

Not the world of gritty realism (RPG Maker DS Resource Pack! On Sale until 9/6/2017!)

Are you making a gritty simulationist game where getting from town to town alive is supposed to be a challenge? Then maybe all those hunger/cold/weather/camping mechanics are a good fit. They create the main challenge of the game.

Are you making a high adventure game with world-altering magic, dragons, etc. Maybe it isn’t the best fit. (I mean seriously we have spells that can nuke enemies the size of a skyscraper but no one found out how to cast a spell that can keep us warm?).

Realism shouldn’t be included in a game for realism, realism should be included in the game because it makes the mechanics of the game better, or adds to the feel of the game. Are your characters supposed to feel like they are scraping together whatever they can? Then a system of equipment degradation adds to that sense of improvised gear. But adding equipment degradation to a game where you are wielding legendary weapons… it feels very off. It just adds a nuisance layer to the mechanics that doesn’t need to be there.

This is much more where I would expect to run into simulationist mechanics. (Medieval: Diseased Town Resource Pack)

This is much more where I would expect to run into simulationist mechanics. (Medieval: Diseased Town Resource Pack)

What do you feel about realism in games? What is a situation where you could see implementing a simulationist mechanic? What is a situation where a simulationist mechanic felt out of place? Tell us in the comments below!

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  • Murder Hobo

    Whilst playing my friends ‘dream’ project, he had included a survival aspect (food, drink, and sleep), a weight limit, and a time of day. All this was fine but he had also added a reputation system of different factions. You had to perform menial labor, gather items, or kill nearby enemies… and after your reputation was at a certain point, you were then able to by supplies from a certain faction.
    Mind you, this game was supposed to be a dungeon crawler of sorts with a mercenary system you used for team mates.
    It all just seemed thrown together. I could see a survival aspect dungeon crawling, or dungeon crawling with a reputation system but to throw them all together just made the game tedious and not enjoyable.

  • Anja

    “Keep it simple” is and will always be a basic thing to keep in mind. Never go out further than is necessary for a game. Not that I can always keep to that myself, though…