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Reality Is Unrealistic: Video Games
  • The Blood Elf male models in World of Warcraft are perhaps the most realistically proportioned models in the entire game. Almost everyone's thoughts on the model for the Blood Elf Males? That they look very scrawny. (Females are obviously intended to be this way, they look like Courtney Yates during China.) Well of course humans are gonna look ultra-thin when you put them next to the bulky Orcs and Draenei and the chunky Tauren...
  • A very common gripe among some EVE Online players is that the game's colourful background nebulae are massively over the top because the sky should just be black with twinkly bits, right? In reality, space is full of all sorts of spectacular features, it's just that these are too dimly lit for the human eye to see unaided, especially if you live in an urbanized area with lots of light pollution.
  • On most hand grenades, pulling the pin is not what makes them go boom; the pin is just a final safety catch for the lever, which when released sets off the time-delayed detonator. Also, trying to pull the pin with your teeth is usually a good way to break a tooth. You cannot put the pin back in a grenade (or put in a replacement) if the lever (the part the pin was holding in the first place) has already been released. Even if you try to replace the handle, the fuse has started. If the fuse hasn't started, if the lever hasn’t moved, you might be able to make the grenade 'safe' again by putting the pin back. But don't risk your life on it.
    • Notable in First Person Shooters where holding a grenade too long will result in the player blowing themselves up or the grenade exploding as soon as it leaves the player's hand. Apparently, FPS heroes don't know how to handle grenades properly. May be justified in that in FPS games, the hero uses an unsafe (but sometimes effective) practice of "cooking" the grenade. This is explicitly how grenades work in Killzone 2. There's even a series of lights that tells you how long before you overcook, so to speak.
    • In some games with an older theme, it's done with dynamite. The hero lights the fuse and then you hold it to time the throw and explosion. Hold it too long and it goes kablooey in your hand. In real life, while slow-burning fuses are a real thing, most people would presumably not be stupid enough to try it, especially with something as notoriously fickle as dynamite.
    • Regarding modern grenades, American and other NATO military instructors have drilled recruits to hold the grenade with the thumb of the throwing hand over the "spoon" (detonator lever), preventing the lever from releasing until the grenade is thrown and allowing pin reinsertion if the combat situation changes. In photo or video footage, this makes the action of the lever non-obvious, leading to the misconception that pulling the pin makes the grenade go boom. "Cooking" grenades has also been discouraged, promoting instead alternative practices of throwing in a higher arc or "banking" off of a hard object for a longer delay.
      • One game that averts the grenade blowing up in your hands once you pull the pin is Far Cry 3. When your character pulls the pin, he allows the spoon to fly off at the same time. Of course, you still need to gain the ability to cook the grenade before the game fully catches up with what's going on there, but it's a nice touch.
      • Americas Army 3 requires you to push a separate button to release the spoon and start cooking the grenade. Unless you do that, you can hold the grenade with the pin out as long as you want.
      • Ballistic Weapons has your character put the pin back into a grenade when switching from it to another weapon, and like the above, you have to press a different key to cook the grenade.
    • This is invoked in one of the self-kill messages in Quake: If you blow yourself up with a grenade launcher, it will say "Player tried to put the pin back in".
    • Grenades were invented in China while Europe was in the Dark Ages and saw action in Europe before the American Revolution, making them Older Than Print. It is rare that a game set in those times which even acknowledges the existence of these weapons, Total War: Shogun 2 and Mount & Blade being exceptions.
  • A character designer for God of War details his encounters with this trope in some making-of bonus material, as the rest of the dev team would say authentic Ancient Greek costumes and armor were "not Greek enough," and were only satisfied with the pop-culture versions of Ancient Greek garb. The devs realized that the general public was unlikely to have researched ancient Greek fashion, thus becoming a minor case of Pandering to the Base.
  • A common complaint about driving games is that a speeding car can easily yank a metal lamp post out of the ground with little loss of speed, while being stopped dead by a humble tree, which makes no sense to most people. In reality, modern lamp posts are intentionally designed to buckle in the event of a car crash as to not harm the passengers, while trees are rooted in the ground and require much more force to uproot. This complaint still has some merit though if a game depicts something like a fast semi truck or tank being unable to damage a thin palm tree.
  • Related to the above; in most FPS games, headshots are instant kill. They may not entirely be instant (as shown below) but because of this, a lot of snipers aim for the head specifically. In Real life, most snipers don't actually aim for the head for the fact that it's an even harder target to hit in real life than it is in games. Most actually aim for the chest or the neck as to get the heart or the jugular, or even inflict enough damage they can't fight back. Not that headshots can't be done with a sniper rifle, just that they're still Awesome, but Impractical. Especially if it's in a battlefield. If someone's holding still long enough for you to get a clear shot at their head, they're not just a sitting duck for snipers...
    • There's also more to sniping than "hit the little man in the square". Real snipers have to factor in wind speed and recoil since bullets don't fly in a straight line.
      • Though this leads to an inversion, where both real-world and video-game snipers tend to prefer bolt-action rifles over semi-automatic ones, just for different reasons - in the real world, bolt-action weapons are typically more accurate at range, but in games where sniper rifles are pinpoint accurate so long as their user is looking through the scope, they instead usually deal more damage per bullet to balance out the slower firing speed.
  • The Metro series of video games get frequent complaints concerning the Russian accents in the English dub. The problem is that the bulk of the "awful fake Russian accents" are actually the result of the Russian and Ukrainian voice actors working on the English dub; the accents are genuine.
  • As video games strive to become more realistic, the colors have become darker, mostly greys and browns. Particularly First Person Shooters. Take a look outside to see how much brown and grey you actually see out there. In their defense, you probably aren't looking out your window at the kind of blasted hellscape most shooters are set in. And though grey and brown are the colours of aging stone, abandoned cities would very quickly turn green as the truly inexorable inhuman destroyers, plants, swarm in. This is partly due to genuine limitations in graphics technology which are only just being overcome. In real life, brightly colored surfaces affect the color of reflected light, an effect known as Radiosity. See this discussion.
  • Ace Attorney:
    • In Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney, the first victim is killed with a glass bottle to the forehead, leading to people to question why it didn't shatter, leaving it to be presented in court intact (made worse by the fact that the series is based on finding such contradictions, but asking this in game isn't an option and a previous game in the series featured a bottle that broke when someone was hit non-lethally). Glass is not as fragile as depicted in Hollywood, and the process used to make the bottle (of which there are several) and the quality and amount of material used are a factor. In fact, the non-lethal broken bottle from the previous game was likely a cheaper product, and was non-lethal because it broke, which absorbed a significant amount of the energy involved, while the unbroken bottle would have transferred more energy into the skull, thus causing more damage. The common misconception of Soft Glass exists because scenes where glass is broken don't use real glass - they used to use "sugar glass", and now just use a plastic "breakaway glass".
    • The entire series falls into this, for most people. The Japanese legal system is represented in game in an exaggerated and outright over the top fashion but is is represented nonetheless. Ask the average player of the games and they'll tell you that the legal system of the Ace Attorney world is so unrealistically absurd that it borderlines over the top. But in reality, the only thing that's not true to real life, is the contents of the cases themselves and how fast-paced and twisty the trials are. The laws, trial procedures, treatment of the defense, and "guilty until proven innocent" motto are all in fact true to the Japanese Bench System, which the games are based on.
    • This comes into play especially when you find out that the fourth game's introduction of a jury system into such a chaotic law world was said by many to be an unrealistically fast "Heel-Face Turn" on the part of the officials. In actual fact, this was exactly what happened in Japan at the time of the game's creation, and was the reason why such a thing was put in the game in the first place.
    • The act of calling a parrot to the stand in the first game seems ridiculous (the person who brings it up as a possibility does so to mock Phoenix), for good reason, but in actuality, such a thing has happened in real life trials before. The absurd part comes from the fact that they actually make the parrot testify.
  • On the forums of the America's Army game, a game created by the U.S. Army, people often complain that certain aspects about the game are less realistic than other games. The actual case is inevitably that America's Army is the first game to get that particular aspect right and the people aren't used to that. Common examples of what uninformed posters complain about are what weapons the Army uses (specifically the lack of expected weapons), the slow speed of the reloading animations, the dramatic stun effects of flashbangs, the frequency (if not existence) of weapon jams, the slow movement and gameplay speed, the lack of some ridiculous practices, and other things commonly misrepresented by other games. You know a media-caused misconception is ingrained firmly when people think they understand something about combat better than the actual Army. The more frequent than expected weapons jams in America's Army's current weapon of choice are frustrating professionals in real life as well.
    • On the subject of the M16, most people would express absolute disbelief at any report or video that the M4/M16 can indeed take quite a bit of abuse like sand and dust due to the ingrained belief that the tiniest bit of debris will jam it. It was less reliable compared to the AK-47/Type 56 — but what isn't? The infamy is inherited from the early versions used in The Vietnam War: due to machinations with the hasty release and logistics they failed soldiers who weren't taught or equipped to properly maintain them. The manufacturer worked out kinks, but the reputation remains soiled. Hence the "Good Guns, Bad Guns" Product Placement campaign.
      • The M16 is a well made gun. Lower tolerances and minimized head space makes for a quality arm, but also for a less dirt-tolerant one. Anyone doubting the M16's durability in regards to physical pounding should see what happens when you run one over with a tank, then do the same to an AK-47. The AK's sheet steel construction folds like a deck of cards. But the M16 gets cracked plastic and a bent barrel, easy fixes.
    • Later Call of Duty games are hit with a form of this as well. Basically, reloading belt-fed machine guns in these games take the pattern of first pulling back the gun's charging handle, then replacing the ammo box as normal. Since this is the exact opposite pattern from every other type of gun in the game, and does not change to account for whether the previous belt still had bullets in it, a lot of people seem to get the idea that the machine guns in these games are reloaded "incorrectly", and other developers go out of their way to meet those expectations - even the guys replacing the original developers for Modern Warfare 3. In reality, every belt-fed gun in Call of Duty that actually requires reloading is an open-bolt design - it would be physically impossible to insert the first round of a new belt if the bolt remained closed after going through an ammo belt.
  • Halo pulls an interesting version of this - only Spartans can go Guns Akimbo. Lampshaded by a UNSC marine:
    "I've seen a Spartan use two SMGs at once, tearing the crap out of the little ones; sending the big ones down in bloody heaps. But I guess that's what ya gotta be to pull it off: an action-movie hero or a seven-foot-tall walking tank..."
  • People have complained that Vanille's Australian accent in the dub of Final Fantasy XIII is fake sounding and doesn't sound Australian. Her voice actress, Georgia Van Cuylenburg, is actually from Australia. To Australians, though, she sounds like a surfer chick.
    • Similarly, Leliana from Dragon Age: Origins gets flak because her Orlesian accent sounds fake (Orlais transparently being Dragon Age's version of France). Her voice actress is, of course, French. Marjolanne, another character with an Orlesian accent, actually is voiced by Kath Soucie who is not French.
  • To make the skin textures for the Infected in Left 4 Dead, the Valve team compiled a book of gruesome skin disorders. Then they decided it was just so disgusting and over-the-top that they never looked at it again, and used things like fibreglass and cardboard instead.
  • Wolfire Games did a blog post about research they did for their upcoming game. Many of the picture subtitles fit this trope.
  • The developer commentary to Portal 2 reveals that an important detail of the Final Boss fight very nearly fell victim to this. Playtesters expected portals fired by the Handheld Portal Device to appear instantly and were confused when an obvious Chekhov's Gun failed to go off as expected due to speed-of-light lag. After toying with ignoring the speed of light, Valve's final solution was to constrain the player's view so they cannot easily look away from the intended target, and once the final shot is fired, to lock the game into cutscene mode. It works perfectly.
  • In Ōkami, when Amaterasu uses Golden Fury, she hikes her leg up in a way that most people associate with male dogs. This confuses some people. In real life, whether a wolf hikes its leg or not is dependent on the wolf's position in the pack hierarchy, not its gender. Alpha wolves raise their leg when marking/urinating and subservient wolves squat down to urinate. Some female dogs hike their leg, too.
  • Bully actually does have some events like what goes on in the game happen in real life. But don't worry, in Real Life, if half of the stuff that goes on in Bullworth happened in one year, it'd get closed down by the end... probably before.
  • Some criticisms of The Elder Scrolls towards the Argonians was that they walk on plantigrade feet (human feet). In Morrowind, they walked on digitigrade legs, and others claimed this was more realistic. Funny thing... in Real Life, Reptiles are plantigrade, so technically, the Morrowind argonians were the most unrealistic. Now, as for the Khajiits, based off of felines who don't walk on plantigrade feet...
    • Depends on what kind of reptile the Argonians are based on. Squamatas (which include lizards) and testudines have plantigrade feet, but archosaur reptiles (dinosaurs, crocodilians, birds) typically have digitigrade feet. While Argonians are often called "lizards" by racists who probably don't know any better, the series' lore seems to imply that that they really are just lizards in origin.
  • In Dead Island, the Australian character Purna is voiced by an Australian actress, Peta Johnson. Despite this, one of the most frequent criticisms of Johnson's performance is that her accent sounds fake.
  • Most gamers playing The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword don't know that the design of the goofy-looking Loftwings the citizens of Skyloft ride on are based on real (though smaller but still quite large) birds called Shoebill storks, native to Sudan.
  • Some younger Guitar Hero fans thought Slash was a fictional person created just for the game. http://www.joystiq.com/2012/02/22/slash-looks-back-at-working-with-activision-on-guitar-hero/
  • Racing games with licensed cars very often feature stereotypical handling and performance. Whenever a Porsche shows up in a racing game you can bet it will oversteer and be hard to control, even though you are driving a modern Porsche with four wheel drive and 45-55 weight balance and not a '76 Turbo. The Boxster and Cayman will be very light and have a low top speed because they kind of look like something Lotus would make, even though the only reason the real life Cayman does not outperform the equivalent 911 is because its drivetrain was intentionally downgraded and a tuned Cayman should blow the doors off a comparable 911. Lotus itself always ends up providing the slowest car with the best acceleration and handling, even if said car is the Esprit V8 which is pretty much a mid engined muscle car in real life. The perennial Aston Martin in Need for Speed always handles like a boat, even the DBR 9 version which is a race spec build and should handle like any other GT 1 formula sportscar. Same goes for the BMW M 3 R and for the same reason. The Nissan GTR is often represented as a drift car with a low top speed, probably because it looks like an upgraded Skyline. And whenever you see a modern four door car in the lineup, usually the Audi RS 4 or a Maserati, it will have the handling and ramming power of a semi.
  • Despite attempting to accurately simulate actual driving dynamics, racing sims tend to behave unrealistically when one oversteps the limits. Often, the physics are engineered such that once the limit is reached, the car snap oversteers or is generally extremely difficult to control. Many professional racing drivers, and some physics devs such as gMotor guru Niels Heusinkveld, point out that most cars are much more forgiving at the limits of grip. Despite this, the general "point-of-no-return" model persists, partly due to the perception that controlling a fast car is incredibly difficult.
    • While this may be true for most cars not originally intended for racing in every sim, Forza Motorsport handles the racing-tuned cars as much more accurate to the real thing, with better handling and braking than most other cars in the game.
  • Some felt that Cole Phelps of L.A. Noire being charged for adultery as a crime was over the top, when in reality, adultery was indeed a crime in 1940's America.
  • Anivia in League of Legends and Articuno of Pokémon are in fact based off of the Simurgh, Persian bird of mythology. Yes, the cyrophoenix and an ice/flying bird are based off of that. Some people actually didn't believe that such a creature would come from Persian mythology of all places - mostly because when they think of Persia (or rather, Iran) people typically don't think of Iran's snow-covered mountains, they think of a country that's perpetually hot all year round (not unfairly, mind you).
  • Any game that has a ripple effect when the player is underwater, such as Team Fortress 2 (it bears noting that Valve's other, more "realistic" games do not use this effect, so this is likely an aspect of the game's stylized look). Likewise the ripples when viewing the ocean through windows in BioShock. In real life, water only distorts its contents when it's viewed from open air, through an uneven surface.
  • Grand Theft Auto V averts many common video game tropes and expectations.
    • Falling in water won't damage you whatsoever: Averted. Falling into water from great heights is damaging.
    • Tires deflate after they are shot: Averted partially. Most video games have sparks fly out as the tire disappears after it's shot. In this game the tire will leave skid marks until ultimately falling off leaving just the rim. Saints Row: The Third does this too.
    • Propane tanks explode when shooting them: Averted partially. When shot the tank will start expelling flame and gas out the hole. Shoot it enough times and it will explode.
  • World of Tanks has had its fair share of complaints about certain aspects of gameplay, namely from the people who play the higher tier Russian Medium tanks from the T-44 to the T-62. Many of those complaints come from the easily destroyed ammo rack that these vehicles have, and many have called for changes or buffs. Many of these cries have gone unanswered for one reason alone: the ammunition is stored in the exact position on the real tanks, as it is on the tanks in the game.
    • Unfortunately, the game typically averts this in other areas, such as how much of a monster the Tiger was to tanks such as the Sherman and T-34, while the matchmaking rarely puts either of these tanks in the same match as a Tiger, but instead drops their higher tier brethren (Sherman Jumbo, Easy-8, or T-34-85) in the fight instead. But in the rare cases that Tigers DO face Shermans or T-34s, the results are... historically accurate.
  • At least one reviewer has stated that being able to do 40+ mph in a tank in Call of Duty: Ghosts was "probably currently impossible". In reality, modern main battle tanks have been able to reach speeds as fast as this for some time now.
    • Many FPS players familiar with the M1 Abrams tank only through games like Battlefield 2 are surprised to hear that game versions of the tank tend to be not quite as tough as the real thing for balance purposes. In a video game, the M1 will only be as durable as any other tank - that is, only enough to survive maybe two shots from an enemy tank, or instantly killed by a block of C4 placed by a sneaky or lucky enemy player. In the real world, the Abrams is nearly indestructible, to the point that one once survived both an ambush by four T-72's, and repeated shots from other Abrams tanks (since they weren't able to pull it out of the sand it was bogged down in); when a tractor eventually came around to pull it out, the tank was given a replacement turret and was back in action in no time.
  • In Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix, the characters are redrawn so as to give them better, somewhat more realistic proportions in High Definition. However when applied to Guile's stage, this trope kicks in: in the original games, the jet in the background is readily recognizable as an F-16, due to its distinctive cockpit, and intake. The jet was redrawn so as to have an intake that no F-16, not even the F-35 testbeds, has underneath.
  • Some players of Flappy Bird accused the game's significant difficulty on the bird having unfair physics. Turns out the bird has a completely realistic fallspeed, and those players were used to games where gravity is altered for the convenience of the player.

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