Between Realism and Magic
During my ongoing literature review I often discover interesting facts about things I’ve never thought about. Sometimes I can connect these facts with my own observations: The result is mostly a completely new idea why things are as they are. Maybe these ideas are new to you, too. Therefore I’ll share my new science based knowledge with you!
This week: This time, I think about the power of magic that can turn a realistic simulation into a more convenient experience by bending a few rules for a short amount of time.
Simulation games aim at the realistic representation of real world knowledge and activities. They utilize equations and facts describing the knowledge to achieve an accurate simulation. Simultaneously, they provide interaction possibilities allowing for a manipulation of the simulation’s outcomes. As a result, players can interact with the game and practice the encoded knowledge’s application. For instance, a racing game allows a player to drive virtual racing cars that follow the underlying principles thus giving players the impressions of controlling an actual car.
However, often time becomes a critical issue for some of simulation contents as they normally take place over a long period of time. For instance, it takes a spacecraft several days to reach the Moon or a ship to cross the Atlantic ocean. As a result, players would need play the game for the same amount of time to really experience a realistic simulation. Aside from requiring a huge time commitment, it would also result in a lot of downtime and boring gameplay. Players would be required to wait for events to occur and quickly start to become bored by the game.
This problem can be demished with the power of game design that adds interaction techniques allowing for actions that are not possible in the real world. For instance, travel interaction techniques enable players to teleport themselves to distant locations thus greatly reducing the travel trime. Similarly, other techniques implement a time control function allowing for an increase or decrease of the simulation time. As a result, players can sail across the Atlantic ocean within a couple of minutes while still underlying the physical principles.
Although those „magical“ interactions reduce the overall realism of a simulation, they provide a convenient method to only focus on critical phases of the simulated knowledge. In the end, it is up to the users if they like to utilize magical power to bend some physical principles or if they prefer an ultra realistic simulation. In conclusion, computer games allow us to walk between magic and realism without reducing the accuracy of the simulation.