26 Replies Latest reply on Jul 10, 2014 1:15 AM by ButterflyDream RSS

    The virtue of realism in Call of Duty (Warning: Wall of Text)

      Aristotle and Plato basically created this idea of virtue, the harmony between two extremes. In an attempt to understand what's important in life, Aristotle come to the brilliant conclusion that we first needed to figure out a way to define key attributes of a person first. By identifying we can sift through various traits to find the most important. For instance, one can be courageous, but what is courage? Courage can certainly be considered a virtue, but how and why. What exactly is courage?


      Courage is a virtue that exists between two vices; rashness and cowardice. There's a spectrum that exists with everything that is a virtue. To be courageous one must be able to overcome certain fears to defeat a challenge, however, one must also be able to turn away from an inevitable defeat. These ends of the spectrum are called vices.


      I feel Call of Duty needs to take this philosophical approach and apply it to the principle of the game. The argument of realism, I feel, can be solved using this type of reasoning. Logically, let's look at what realism in video games really means.




      Using the same formula for courage, we must identify the vices of realism. One could easily argue supreme "realness" or ultra-realistic. This would be like a player setting down the controller, picking up a real weapon and going to war. With this degree of realism one does not respawn super-advanced AI, Perks, or regenerate health at a super fast (as one said Wolverine) pace. Naturally this wouldn't be a good idea, so this is not the virtue but rather the vice.


      The second end of the vice is more complicated to grasp for some. The opposite of ultra-realism is fantasy. I think we can all agree that fantasy consists of aliens, spaceships, and plasma weapons, all things Call of Duty doesn't have. So we can separate the CoD franchise from these elements. CoD uses bullets, players move at a standard human pace, blood is red (not blue, orange, or green), and  the rate of gravity is 9.8m/s^2.


      With these two ends identified we can assess that Call of Duty falls between these two points on a spectrum. In the middle is a medium of ultra-realistic and fantasy. The next question we must ask is what attributes are to be shared between these two vices. CoD is based on Earthly physics as mentioned previously. However, these physics are pushed to their limit which is where the super-advanced AI, respawns, and generous Perks comes into play. So every give has a take. Most of what's in Call of Duty is based on real world applications that are pushed to their full potential.


      It's this understanding that Call of Duty must stick too. There is wiggle room to play with and push towards fantasy more or maybe more realism, but it should be treated as wiggle room and not an excuse to design the game as with these vices as the foundation. What I mean by this CoD has principles and the must be followed. That's CoDs identity and it's virtue. If it wasn't then the game wouldn't have been designed initially (7 odd years ago) with these principles.


      Recently it seems that there's a push for the game to more towards a certain vice, most often it's towards fantasy. This is not Call of Duty's identity, fantasy is not a virtuous characteristic of the franchise. Fantasy is a vice which, generally speaking, is bad.


      • The want for 360* quickscopes off rooftops does not fall within the spectrum of realism where CoD exists, it's fantasy
      • A full scale battle taking place on a yatch does not fall within the spectrum of realism where CoD exists, it's fantasy
      • SMGs killing in 3-4 rounds at 100yrds through a wall does not fall within the spectrum of realism where CoD exists, it's fantasy
      • A slug round getting a OHK at 25yrds is within the spectrum of realism where CoD exists
      • Camping and not showing up on via UAV is within the spectrum of realism where CoD exists
      • An EMP traveling through walls and PERMANENTLY disabling all equipment including HUD is within the spectrum of realism where CoD exists




      So when the argument is made that Call of Duty isn't realistic or when people try to argue that because this is a video game and not real life so we should have ________, we must remember these vices. Balance between these vices is something that we all need to consider when discussing this game, and not just the active elements we are constantly exposed too but passive elements as well. Map design is also subject to the scrutiny of realism. How things are spaced and interacted with is very important in balancing fantasy with ultra-realism.