Jul 12, 2013

Is photorealism in gaming really desirable?

Tim Sweeney, the guy who developed the Unreal Engine and founder of Epic Games, recently said that he is certain that in 10 years, video games will be photorealistic and the graphics will be indistinguishable from reality. I’m not sure this is completely a positive thing. Development costs are already huge for major titles, and I would think that the greater the level of detail, the greater the development cost. Plus, the gaming words are an escape from reality; I’m not sure that it will be as escapist if everything just looks real. What do you think - is photorealism a goal worth achieving?

Some games will probably use it, and some won't. There will always be a variety of gaming art and style, so I wouldn't worry too much about it. Game makers will go where the money is too, and I doubt everybody would want that kind of game.

Graphics may not make the game, but they can aid in the immersive experience. You point out that maybe looking too real would destroy the suspension of disbelief (I paraphrase, obviously). Don’t forget, this could also mean a photorealistic fantastic world, where everything that is normal is turned upside down. It could be a little disturbing if some things look absolutely real. I might stop doing things like getting my money back from, ahem, “ladies of the evening” in GTA for example. But think how awesome racing games and sports games would be with photorealistic graphics. Very, I think.


Where I do agree with you is development costs, and the results of that. What you see already in game development is that companies tend to play it safe with their $100 million dollar development titles. 

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