Game Sense: The Art of Gaming
The metaverse has made an impact in the tech community (maybe more than expected?), but do games really “create” experiences and worlds that fully submerge you? Let’s explore what games and VR provide you and what they lack altogether.
A lot of games today, no matter the genre, want to provide one important aspect: VISUALS! Yes, without great visuals it is difficult to say you are a game designer trying to make the next cutting edge game. The obvious culprit of this is open world games. Recently Eldin Ring was released and similar to other open worlds like Breath of the Wild and Pokemon Arceus, the visuals were a big focus of the design and experience for the players. Many areas in the games include towns/villages, mountains landscapes and waterfalls! The visuals of games are typically meant to capture your attention as they are not visuals you would easily see in the real world (or at all for that matter!).
Artistic visuals are not a new thing, they date back 1000s of years to painters of all kinds who tried to capture the essence of nature in their art. What games and VR do is just a more modern form. Before digital graphics became so cutting edge and accessible, the music industry also drove themselves to making visuals for songs to express visually the feeling of what was being expressed through lyrics. However games/VR are different.
The key difference is that you are in control. Control of yourself in VR or of a character representing you in a game. The other aspect that brings these experiences to life is the audio. The same thing is done with sound because it doesn’t need to be realistic to be fun. When a jump is performed having some chime sound off is just as nice (or nicer) as realistic landing sound depending on the theme of the “world”. Music as well helps to set the tone of a serious situation when facing a boss or of a victory when a mile stone is reached. There are many varieties of music and sound effects that take the visuals from one level to another.
This however is where the experience is limited on games. Games traditionally only have a designed visual and auditory experience. They do not have a designed sensory experience with any of the other senses. For example when a potion is crafted, there is no smell. When a food is gathered, there is no taste or relief from hunger for the user to also experience. Games are limited in this way, whereas the real world has all this and more. Sensory experiences are what differentiate reality from games. While a game allows you the joys and frustrations of visuals and sounds (just think of dying in a game repeatedly), the real world is not so forgiving.
The trials in the real world do not have constant puzzles presented to you or monsters to go fight but because there are more senses acting on you, it is more tiring. A game doesn’t make your legs burn after running for long distances, instead a gauge simply decreases to make you slower. You don’t have to deal with getting hurt or dying, simply reset. The simplicity of games and VR help to escape one from the other feelings of reality.
VR is a little different from games as they do try to give movement to their experiences. Other games have also tried to do the same like Pokemon Go more famously, as well as games on the Wii and Xbox Kinect. However they are either immensely successful for a short time or have moderate success. It may be that games that include a more sensory experience become too much like reality and thus have more cons to playing them as a consequence.
The full sensory experience of life can only be packaged in a game if only the positives can be included which may never be possible. Visuals and audio are probably good limits to have on games whether we realize it or not. The world is full of beauty and danger all managed for us, without us needed to write it out code line by line, with all the senses there for you to enjoy or avoid, naturally.