When Games Become a Part of Reality

reality-is-for-non-gamers

As technology advances, video game developers are able to portray realism in their games much more accurately: graphics make video games look like movies, AIs interact with characters at an uncanny level, and the stories can hit closer to home than ever before. Still, some people will always look at video games as unrealistic and fantastic in nature; never to really cross the boundary between real and unreal.

As many of you know, the Detroit Tigers and the San Francisco Giants played against each other in the World Series. As an avid Tiger’s fan I was disappointed, to say the least, when my Tiger’s were swept by the Giants. I still had hope, however, when I attended Game 3 at Comerica Park with my mom. Granted my hope was misplaced and we still lost, I came away from the game with a new respect for MLB 2k12. When the Tiger’s players came up to the plate for their first at-bats instead of playing a montage of successful hits on the big screen, they chose to show each player’s in-game selves going up to bat. It was an interesting way to mesh game and reality and it caught the attention of everyone sitting around me. It was also a nice marketing move by EA; as one of their most popular commercials for the game emphasizes the realism within the game:

As a fan whose team just lost the World Series, I’d like to pick up a copy of the game just so I can go back and recreate the feeling of being a winner. If you’re a sports fan you can’t honestly say that this commercial doesn’t hit home just a little bit! The truth of the matter is that games evoke the same feelings as real life situations and sometimes (most times!) just as powerfully.

Another instance of gaming crossing the boundaries of reality was when a group of people decided to play NHL 13 (link may not work until DeadSpin’s servers is back up!) in place of a real hockey game that was supposed to take place. For the past two months NHL fans have been missing out on hockey because of the lockout but when you have a game like NHL 13 where all the teams are present and all the current rosters are available, you can recreate the games that you’re supposed to be watching. It’s actually proven to be quite the push to buy the game as well, as EA reported seeing a 9% increase in the sales of the game the first week it was out; which they’re attributing to the lockout.

I think as games get more and more realistic and as real life scenarios change, video games may be accepted as an honest way to experience real life situations. Video games are meant to be immersive and simulate real life, they pull on your heartstrings and immerse you in their stories in such a way that it seems natural  that they become a  more regular part of our daily lives.

Both comments and pings are currently closed.

2 Responses to “When Games Become a Part of Reality”

  1. Torill says:

    Thank you for an interesting post and a nice blog. I am not sure I agree with you though. Games have always been a part of reality. What you are describing appears to be electronic games being used for machinima of the flesh-world games. Which leads me to a question: Are the scenarios you describe copies of the games they portray, or are there different outcomes?

    I also have to disagree with you on this: “Video games are meant to be immersive and simulate real life, they pull on your heartstrings and immerse you in their stories in such a way that it seems natural that they become a more regular part of our daily lives.” I don’t think we should reduce video games to simulations. They are games, and have their own use, goal and attraction. They are only “meant” to be entertaining or at least engaging – if you look at them all, and want to generalise about them. Some video games may be meant to be immersive simulations, but I don’t really think that’s the main goal of every video game.

    • Nicole Marie says:

      Torill,

      Thanks for the comment! I understand what you’re saying, and to your first question I think they are meant to just be copies of the games they portray. The MLB gaming franchise makes a point with the trailer posted to mention how realistic the game feels; like you are attending an actual baseball game at the stadium. So, I’d have to conclude that they are indeed attempting to recreate the games they’re portraying. As to whether or not it would be described as machinima, I think that could be debated and I’m not entirely sure where I would stand on that! While the gameplay could be considered cinematic, I would say that’s a stretch. Unless you’re speaking to something I’m missing!

      I also agree with you that we should never reduce games/gaming to just being simulations. My intended audience for this post was more-so people outside of gaming (“parents who just don’t understand”) who think that their kids are out of touch with reality because they play video games. So, my intention was to convince the outsiders that while games may appear to simply be simulations, the simulation is so realistic that we should not debase their value in teaching real world lessons. I also believe that many games want to pull you in emotionally; no matter what the emotion may be. And that may generalize games a little too much, but I think it would also be difficult to find a developer who claims to not want to make a game that ties their audience members in on some emotional level. In that way I feel games are intended to be immersive, but again that’s to an extent!

      I hope this clarifies some for you, I’m open to anything you want to discuss more!