It may seem like a strange statement, accompanied by a screenshot from one of the latest and greatest hits on PC and consoles – “Call of duty: Advanced warfare” which features the digitized image of Kevin Spacey in quite a massive amount of detail.
But that comes to show the point: graphics in video games can achieve photo-realism these days, but they don’t. The people in them still seem like moving wax figures, even with perfect hair, dirt, and 12 o’clock shadow. Of course you’ll need a monster gaming PC to see the graphics in the top form they appear in this game’s cut-scenes (or you’ll get a very watered down version that doesn’t come close to the fidelity you see in this or other PR shots from the game).
But it is possible to make people look more… like people with today’s technology. I believe that the answer to why it’s mostly not done lies in the fear of the production companies from the possible connection between real-life violence and violent video games.
I’ll give a clear example: The known 2K’s NBA franchise, with it’s latest reiteration – NBA2K15, as well as Electronic Arts competitor NBA Live (15 being the current version) depicts quite realistic human graphics, as can be seen in the following two videos:
Seeing that these are sport simulation games, without gore blood or violence, they are “allowed” to push the the limits more than the gory games.
The gaming companies line of defense remains that video games are make-believe, exaggerated and comic-book-like creations and as such do not pose a threat to society. But advancing technology as well as demand from gamers does not make life easier for them as they are expected to show a rise in the level of graphics as well as game experience with every passing year.
So they use the technology to their advantage, and I suspect they actually over-do themselves in order to keep the characters just a bit unrealistic. Keeping the skin a bit too glossy, the eyes somewhat deem/overly sparkly or the movement a bit less or a little overly fluid.
They walk a fine line, and I’m sure others notice it as well. But how long can they keep walking between the rain drops? Consumers want what they pay for, and plonking a few thousands of dollars on a monster gaming machine makes no sense when the resulting experience is lackluster.
The possible solution? enforcing a more strict age policy, or adding a specific warning to realistic looking gory games that states “May contain photo-realistic violence, Beware!”. It may seems silly, but technology cannot be stopped, and if they big companies won’t catch up to the level that already exists today, the indie game developers will as soon as the technology becomes cheap enough for them to exploit.