Many times in stories and representations of characters in games and movies, we use “realism” to add depth to a character. However, nowadays, that means one thing.
Realism Moody & Dark
Nowadays, realism means to add a level of darkness to the plot, character or game. But, is that what it means to emphasize realism? Does it have to be that way? I do not think so.
Can’t See The Other Colors
If we over-emphasize one part of the theme, the other parts tend to suffer. For example, if your entire game is a parade of darkness with one glimmer of light, that light is snuffed out by the rest of the game. It’s like a song playing a single note. Conversely, now your “realism” drains all the depth of your characters and game. With that said, the cure is simple.
Realism Can Be More Than Dark
If we look at realism as anchoring an element of the game or story to real-world consequence, that doesn’t mean consequences are bad. Consequences of actions grounded in the real world just need real consequences. Given that’s the case, if you help someone in the game, maybe they come back and help you later, spending time with someone makes them more likely to help you. These are consequences that are very real.
Now, I would add one more important point to this idea of adding color to show the full spectrum of reality.
Incorporate Realism From The Start
Incorporate your realism from the start. Sometimes it’s very easy for us to throw a realistic mechanic without defining it beforehand. For example, you would not expect to see permadeath in a game that never had that aspect, to begin with, nor, should it be in your story without any prior warning. Here’s an example:
Adding disease as a real threat in your story without foreshadowing. This would throw the player off, especially if you’re using it as a cheap way to push your agenda. Weave your realistic points into the beginning of your story.
These are all my thoughts on the issue for now.
With that said, good luck game making!!