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The Function-Aesthetics Dilemma

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Awesome But Impractical or Boring But Practical? That is the question.

This work is a proposed Trope, Tropers can vote and offer feedback in the comments section below.
Proposed By:
BreadBull on Jan 2nd 2018 at 12:08:23 PM
Last Edited By:
BreadBull on Jan 5th 2018 at 9:47:33 PM
Name Space: Main
Page Type: trope

Needs a Better Name, probably. Also more examples.

If you're playing a video game with some sort of Tier System you've probably run into this sort of problem: You've found some new armor that has better stats than the ones you're wearing, but it looks terrible. So, what to do - continue using the Awesome, but Impractical armor you have now, or ditch them for the new Boring, but Practical ones?

In general, people will tend to go with Boring, but Practical especially in PVP multiplayer, since looking good is less important than not dying. This can lead to people having Rainbow Pimp Gear by wearing whatever best items they happen to have/find, and over the long term become Complacent Gaming Syndrome where everyone chooses to use the same armor/weapons/other miscellaneous gear because it's considered the best.

Some video games choose instead not to have the stats of an item tied to its model, which partly averts this problem and players can cross their fingers hoping they can find something that's both awesome and practical. Other games allow you to wear an item cosmetically, so it looks like you have it on although it doesn't provide any benefits.

See also Cool Guns, Cool Sword, Impossibly Cool Weapon, Rule of Cool.


Examples

  • The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim's iron helmet is an iconic Cool Helmet for the game, being prominently featured in its trailers. Unfortunately, practicality-wise it's one of the worst pieces of armor you can wear.
  • Starbound uses RNG to dynamically generate weapons, but also features a couple dozen unique weapons that unfortunately become less useful as time goes on. And unique does mean unique, as they feature a bunch of special abilities that aren't available otherwise. Luckily an update made it so you can upgrade these unique weapons to do more damage.
  • No Man's Sky ships and the multi-tool are loosely tied to stats, so players need to decide whether they value a cool looking ship more or one that can hold more cargo / fly faster.
  • The multiplayer community of the Dark Souls series was split between gear min-maxers and the so-called "Fashion Souls", i.e. players who match up their gear to be aesthetically pleasing. The devs seem to have recognized that and have thrown their weight on the Fashion Souls side of the debate, by making it especially easy to mix-and-match armor from different sets.

Feedback: 5 replies

Jan 2nd 2018 at 1:22:34 PM

Isn't this just following or defying the Rule Of Cool?

Jan 2nd 2018 at 1:38:54 PM

Golden Sun: Summons deal a large amount of damage and look awesome as hell but lower character stats and can even neutralize higher-end spells like multiheals and revives, Psynergy is flashy and usually targets multiple enemies but eventually deals less damage that ganging up on one enemy at a time. As the game progresses, it becomes far more efficient to use attacks on everything, keeping summons for bosses and only using healing Psynergy (and as weapon unleashes happen often, can look just as cool by summoning spirits or dropping meteors).

Jan 2nd 2018 at 4:19:52 PM

Function Vs. Aesthetics

Jan 3rd 2018 at 2:49:33 AM

  • The multiplayer community of the Dark Souls series was split between gear min-maxers and the so-called "Fashion Souls", i.e. players who match up their gear to be aesthetically pleasing. The devs seem to have recognized that and have thrown their weight on the Fashion Souls side of the debate, by making it especially easy to mix-and-match armor from different sets.

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