First Person Games Aren’t So “Realistic”

This blog post was originally something that I posted on my now discontinued Nigga Nintendo Nerd site that existed a few years ago. I’ve decided to reboot and retcon such a post now that I have more experience with shooters and first person games in general, so I can give a more detailed analysis. For those that are new, I used to have another WordPress blog prior to MRN back in the summer of 2014 but I cancelled it for many different reasons. One was the layout, another I was just desperate at writing, I wanted to write reviews, and because my classmate stalked me online.

Without further ado, I’ll get right into my “rant” and analysis on how and why first person games, and to a certain extent shooters, aren’t as realistic as they are marketed by the publishers. It’s not just about the view and perspective of first person games, but also the mechanics that are implemented. I know that video games aren’t simulators or VR (unless marketed and designed as such) so they shouldn’t be taken that seriously. However, it still makes me disappointed that people actually are naïve and stupid enough to believe that such games are very realistic and actually emulate reality very closely.

First Person “Perspective”

What really pisses me off about games that take place from a first person perspective is how much they fail at trying to copy real life. Yes, I can look and move around in all directions, although when I look down below me I see only the ground. Re-read the last part of the previous sentence, and you’ll know exactly what’s wrong… is that you can’t see any parts of your body except for hands and arms! So the developers think that having players see through the eyes of the protagonist is indeed realistic, but not including their body in first person mode isn’t?

When we all look down we can see our legs, crotch, stomach, arms, hands, and sometimes even our chest. But in many first person games you see none of that when looking down so it’s as if we’re playing as a floating head with arms and hands. Look, I get that you can’t really program the character to move their eyes and see their nose and parts of their face. It’s just really awkward when I enter a vehicle in first person mode and then it looks as if it’s driving itself or I’m using telekinesis, since I’m not using (able to see) any hands to maneuver the vehicle.

Now this wouldn’t be a problem for older games released on systems with hardware limitations or games that aren’t marketed as being realistic. Nevertheless, newer games and those especially promised to emulate reality shouldn’t fail to captivate consumers by not adding such a small detail that should be common sense. Not just the fact that such games and their developers technically broke a few laws, but also fails to deliver the realistic experience that was promised. Kind of like how the PS4 Pro and Xbox One X aren’t true native 4K resolution despite advertised as legitimate 4K.

Another characteristic of first person mode that isn’t close to its real life counterpart is the FOV or field of view. That’s basically how much you can see within your range of vision (which is your television screen or PC monitor). We humans tend to see our environment in a 180 degree angle whereas you can only see roughly 90 to about 110 degrees of the FOV in first person games. Also, we also view reality as a curvy “dome” and video games are displayed on a flat 2D surface. Some monitors are designed to be curvy but those are very rare and many games aren’t optimized for it.

The view model is the final and last feature of first person perspective that isn’t even close to how it is in real life. This is how close or far away the body parts are positioned from the screen. Many shooters depict players holding the gun with their hands so close to the screen and only being able to see a little past the wrist area. With the exception of pistols, I cannot even believe how developers can convince people to believe that people actually hold guns like that in real life. This is just nitpicking, but when looking in a mirror our characters aren’t replicated 1:1 to their reflections.

Problems Playing In FPP

So what’s wrong with not having an accurate first person perspective other than breaking minor laws and ethics/morals you ask? It makes the game a lot harder in specific situations or areas, especially those in the action and platform genres. Say I have to jump over to a far ledge and I have to do it quickly, but then because I can’t see the rest of my body I can’t properly distance how far I am from falling. I then either make it due to poor collision detection, pure luck, or just fall and fail simply because I couldn’t see my legs. And many games have platforming segments no matter what.

Or say I’m fighting a fuck ton of enemies or a boss that sends a thousand projectiles at my way. The reality is that I can only fend off those that I can directly see within my limited range of vision and somewhat with my hearing. To counter such limitations, developers usually add arrows or colors to areas where you’re getting hit off screen so you can react properly. I don’t know…maybe if you idiots allowed us to see more than just what’s in front of us and not have invisible bodies, then maybe, just maybe we could react before and/or faster instead of buying better monitor(s)?

Another issue is something that is specifically relevant mostly to shooters. Why can’t I ever use the sights of guns that have them attached to have better accuracy? If the developers are going to add the sights to guns like the M16 and AK47 to emulate the designs how come we can’t use them to make it more “realistic”? It’s not the same as a scope where we can use them to zoom in and aim at enemies from extremely far distances. And having a crosshair for aiming isn’t so realistic as only snipers and scopes have them, and you need training to even aim with guns due to recoil.

I can’t believe I forgot about this until now – collision detection is also another issue with first person games lacking visible bodies. I often think I bumped into a wall, obstacle, or enemy when really I didn’t and other times when I’m so far away I still somehow manage to touch them. This sort of inconsistency could be solved with better programming or by simply having a visible lower body. Sadly, developers don’t implement neither of these solutions and is more of a pet peeve than a difficulty spike for veterans compared to those of beginners and noobs.

Gameplay Mechanics In FPP

Let me discuss about the different mechanics that developers add into first person games to make it seem more realistic when it only makes it more fictional. First is the speed of movement and different ways to do so (crouching, walking, and sprinting). Why the hell is the default speed not aligned with the sounds of footsteps? How can developers actually think they can fool us thinking that we’re speed-walking but it sounds like we’re only walking? I know this might seem nitpicking though developers intentionally market such games as realistic so I’m going to criticize them for being so fake.

Also when crouching or crawling, it looks like the character is at a very low altitude; however, compare it to the height of nearby objects. Then you’ll notice they aren’t actually crouching and crawling, rather they’re just slightly ducking which gives slightly better accuracy when jumping and shooting. If you look at enemies crouching or crawling, it looks very ridiculous and makes them more visible targets in shooting games. Maybe if the developers actually made them crouch and crawl much lower it would be harder to be detected by enemies and be more realistic?

When it comes to walking and sprinting, you become as slow as a snail with the former and become Usain Bolt with the latter. Shouldn’t walking be a…little faster and sprinting be a little slower or at least with stamina to hinder it? Anyways, strafing is something that you wouldn’t normally do even when shooting in real life as it looks ridiculous and also isn’t effective when making turns. Speaking of Bolt, shouldn’t the characters ever tire out after awhile, especially those carrying heavy ass guns and equipment? And how come characters can jump high enough to go over hurdles?

I don’t understand how switching from first person to third person in some circumstances is acceptable as realistic? Like can I suddenly make my eyes teleport so that I can see from a third person perspective? I know it’s just video games, but how is it realistic to simply crouch for a few seconds and then regenerate? I find it more believable to heal from pills, med-kits, energy bars, or even hearts even though those defy logic and science too lol. Regenerating health and respawning upon death makes many shooters like COD and Battlefield very fake and not realistic.

I can honestly go on and rant about how unrealistic these games are so I think I’ll just end it here since you guys should understand my point now. There actually are lots of first person games that do try to be more realistic by adding lower body (Left 4 Dead), following the physics of actual shooting (CSS & CSGO), and having realistic FOV and view model (most Valve games). I can’t believe games like Zelda and Metroid implement features that are fake but still seem more realistic than what you use in typical fake shooters played by kids and man children living with their parents.

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