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Designing Games for Realism: What’s Real Enough?

While the game industry regards realism as a key characteristic of AAA games, research suggests we may be wasting our money. Perceived realism is far more important, varying on dimensions of authenticity, freedom, presence, and social realism. With the high cost of game development, designers need to know what’s “real enough.”

And with the advent of serious games, designers must now also know how real something must be to change opinions, behaviors, or learning. It turns out that less complicated, cheaper designs can often lead to effective, high-quality gaming experiences.

This international, interdisciplinary panel of game designers and researchers will describe how games can vary along dimensions of realism, discuss how to know where and when to invest in different types of realism, and provide real-world design heuristics derived from evidence-based research in simulation design, learning transfer, expertise, cognitive load, schema theory, message design, and media theory.

Additional Supporting Materials

Questions Answered

  1. What hard evidence is there to tell us how "real" a game must be to achieve its goals?
  2. How do we balance budgets, outcomes, and realism?
  3. Can a game be “too real"?
  4. How should realism vary for different kinds of players?
  5. How does the addition learning or persuasion as a game goal change our design parameters for realism?

Speakers

Organizer

Richard Van Eck University of North Dakota


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