[iDC] game culture (?) (!) (%#@)

Andreas Schiffler aschiffler at ferzkopp.net
Thu Jun 21 09:01:56 EDT 2007

Julian Kücklich wrote:
> > So in some sense, the question extends the common "does it matter that
> > movies have pseudo physics?" discussed extensively on site like
> > http://www.intuitor.com/moviephysics/ to "does it matter when video
> > games have pseudo physics?" (and believe me they do!). Why don't game
> > developers try harder and game players expect more?
> Simple. Pseudo-physics are fun. Take racing games. Games that do try 
> hard to implement the laws of physics into gameplay - e.g. Gran 
> Turismo or Colin McRae - are only fun for highly competent players, 
> whereas games with "movie physics" like Project Gotham Racing or 
> Burnout are lots of fun even for 4-year-olds.

Agreed. But 'how much fun can it generate' should not be the only 
element a game is judged by. Unfortunately entertainment is only about 
fun - if one is pessimistic, one could compare it to Huxley's Soma for 
the masses.  Go to a store and try to find a game that provides a real 
intellectual challenge (these are fun too, are they not?).

Also keep in mind, that you can turn the argument around. Proper Physics 
implementation may contribute to new interesting game interactions which 
players actually want. The game industry and player alike currently 
lament the lack of innovation in modern games. While new releases such 
as  the upcoming Crysis as next-generation games, but a quick glance at 
its trailer shows a relatively traditional FPS with the added benefit of 
being able to convert trees into chopsticks with your railgun.

For some physics fun, check out Gish: 

> If you are interested in using games as a playground for physics 
> experiments, though, you should take a look at Garry's mod for 
> Half-Life 2. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Garry's_Mod
Yes, I am aware of this Mod.

But you fell into a 'trap': calling physics what really isn't the 
Wikipedia definition of Physics. Half Life 2 has some impressive 'game 
physics' but also tons of pseudo stuff. For example a frame-by-frame 
analysis reveals a linear object acceleration due to gravity (it should 
be quadratic, but was probably done like this for optimization 
purposes). Trying to pick up a box with bottles in them makes them fly 
around (a crude approximation of momentum transfer).

The thing to keep in mind, is that the Physics of HL2 is just a dynamics 
simulation engine, not 'Physics'. You could call this nitpicking - but I 
take a fundamental position in that the labeling of a couple of 
real-time Newtonian dynamics solvers and collision detectors (which is 
really a mathematical problem and not physics at all) is called 
'Physics'. Just like e=mc2 is not relativity theory. One implication of 
this, is that scientists - in particular Phycists - outright reject 
games and game physics completely as a valid source for inquiry. 
Example: I was trying to survey Physicists about video games, out of 530 
personalized email requests, I got just 20 answers and a bunch of "don't 
ask me about games" rejections. A similar survey posted on a gamer 
forums drew 200 participants in a weekend. Go figure.


-------------- next part --------------
A non-text attachment was scrubbed...
Name: aschiffler.vcf
Type: text/x-vcard
Size: 135 bytes
Desc: not available
Url : http://mailman.thing.net/pipermail/idc/attachments/20070621/e79692ca/aschiffler-0001.vcf

More information about the iDC mailing list