Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Just a thought

In an article I recently read about realism in videogames, the author brought up the point that a simulation does not only refer to how an object in a virtual world is represented, but in its behavior as well. He gave the example of a car engine not just looking like a car engine in a virtual world, but also behaving like an engine. Herbert Zettl, in “Back to Plato’s Cave: Virtual Reality,” states that the goal of computer graphics is “not to simulate the real environment, but the lens-generated one” (107). So I guess, in a sense, it simulates the behavior of a wide angle lens or a telephoto lens, as he explains, but what about things that are more than just the physical appearance? How would virtual reality be viewed if someone threw an object and the virtual environment followed the laws of physics? Many videogames already incorporate physics into their game engines to make their games more realistic. What I’m wondering is how realistic does virtual reality have to be to be considered realistic enough for the possibility of someone getting too caught up in it and then being unable to distinguish the real from the virtual world. Would it be worth following the laws of physics or any natural laws in a virtual reality world. Or how much importance should be put into creating a world that simulates more than just the aesthetic aspects. Though I suppose it is more important to put an emphasis on the ethical issues that could arise in the “perfect existential world” (108) since it leaves so much freedom and room for experimentation. A bunch of computer games whose graphic quality isn’t as realistic as some are now already have been presenting audiences with moral and ethical decisions. I guess it’s only natural for people to worry about this since technology is making virtual reality more realistic every day.

1 comment:

Lance Strate said...

There is a sense in which film can be seen as a forerunner of VR. We watch a movie in a theater, and have the illusion of entering another world. And Zettl's point is that our conventions that connote realism are derived from the language of film. This is a point explored more fully by Lev Manovitch in his book, The Language of New Media.