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Social Realism in Video Games

For a while we have been talking about video games and what makes them realistic and what does not.  While it is true that many video games can be pretty realistic, there is a difference between that and realism.  Galloway asks the question,” Is social realism even possible in the medium of the video game?” (76).  This is a god question to ask because the answer may simply be no.  After all, many people use video games as an escape from reality.  Life can get so mundane at times, so it becomes a relief to be able to enter the game world where something is always going on.  Social realism tries to draw attention to real life, meaning the everyday aspects of it.  This defeats the purpose of games.  People don’t want to play a video game for it to copy exactly what real life is.  Even when looking at games that represent real life, such as The Sims, there are still major differences.  For example, in the game, one does not have to sit through hours while their character is at work or school.  On top of that, it becomes so easy for these characters to make friends, fall in love, make money, buy a house, and many other things that can take a very long time in the real world.  People always want games to be more realistic, but only in some aspects.  As far as storyline of a game goes, realistic is not always necessary.  It seems like the goal of video games now is to make the feeling of movement and the visuals as realistic as possible, while still allowing creativity and excitement in the gameplay.

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Discussion

3 thoughts on “Social Realism in Video Games

  1. I have two questions: If one follows the traditional saying that art is an imperfect representation of an imperfect life, can video games possibly be considered art if they are an ‘escape’ rather than ‘realism’, ‘realistic’, or ‘representative’? Also, why are video games so often seen as an escape from reality when, while it may be true, we hardly ever say that we watch television or movies to escape? Actually, I am more fundamentally asking why do we consider hobbies an escape from life? Why do we have to make such a start contrast between the escapism of leisure activities and the laborious life of ‘reality’? We engage in leisure activities in REALITY (really wish I had the ability to italicize in comments!), and they shape and inform our ‘reality’ when we are through with them. To me, the notion of escaping reality suggests that reality either stops while you play or it simply moves on without you, unaffected by your absence. Clearly, neither of these are true. People often criticize drug and alcohol users arguing that they try to escape from their problems, but they don’t work to solve their problems. In this sense, escape is negative. Why do we see escape in video games as positive if it affects, in a somewhat similar manner, reality as do escaping through drugs and alcohol? Problems do not get solved and reality IS affected by your absence.

    Posted by emmajani | June 11, 2013, 2:51 pm
    • I think video games can be viewed as both an escape and an imperfect representation of an imperfect life. Regardless of if some people use video games to escape their reality, for game developers video games are their reality, and that reality is influenced by what is going on in the “real” world. Sure The Sims isn’t a perfect representation of the real world, but it is impacted by trends in real life, such as Sims needing to eat, or getting more money for a job requiring more skills. Furthermore, when I used to play the Sims, I would get bored the way I do in real life sometimes. The main difference between video games and reality is that you can turn video games off and escape back to reality, while you can’t really turn reality off. Regardless of if you spend all your time playing video games or not, eventually other people will notice your absence, whether at work, or your landlord trying to collect rent. Essentially, video games achieve Social Realism as an interpretation of what goes on in the real world, the same way art does.

      Posted by Ben Tarhan | June 13, 2013, 11:24 am
  2. What I got from the first pages of this chapter was people tend to live their reality through video games and nothing else really. A statement being made here and there about how individuals tend to gain more life experiences through video games, which I found ridiculous. Gamers don’t gain their experience of what reality is through video games, however something I did pick up is knowledge. Like in the war games, gamers will be able to pick up what gun or weapon that they are now using. In sport games, they’ll know what plays are going to be drawn onto the field and what not. How and why? Because they are gaining the knowledge of what and how these plays or weapons are being used in these type of situations. All so interesting that they gain this type of material through the games, but they won’t gain the achievements or the realistic identity that they would gain in reality as they would from the games.

    Posted by ecflyer91 | June 13, 2013, 9:12 am

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