So, the other night I was taking a break from my real life responsibilities and decided to play a game on my PC. This is a hobby of mine and I have found is the best way for me to escape the real world and be distracted for a while.
I was playing Medal of Honor, which, for those of you that do not know, is what is called a “first person shooter.” That means that the game world is seen from the perspective of your character with the currently equipped weapon in the lower center of the screen. The idea is that it feels like you are there, in person, in the game world. As a result of this mechanic, the developers of games like this have gotten very good at creating worlds with ever increasing realism. The more realistic the world of the game, the more you are drawn into it. (Take a look at some of the screenshots on the site and you will see what I mean. Not too bad for a game that is two years old…)
In Medal of Honor, you play an elite soldier as part of a small team that has a fairly straight forward mission. Rescue a hostage. Find and kill the main bad guy. Find a bomb and defuse it, etc. This particular mission was at night in a village in Afghanistan in what is basically reflective of current events and the war there. Again, the game world is very realistic. This realism serves to heighten the tension.
In the first mission I am in an alley at night with soft moon light coming down from above, dim, warm interior lighting coming from a few shuttered windows and open doors, and many dark corners and places for the enemy to hide . There are voices of the militia we are there to “neutralize” everywhere. Gunfire, small explosions, and flashes of light down and around corners is constant.
I am completely into the game. My other three team members are calling out “tangos” on roof tops and at locations identified by positions on a clock with frightening efficiency and regularity. We are a well oiled machine and the “tangos” are falling left and right.
About 15 minutes into the game and reality starts to creep in. I notice a particularly good rusty metal texture on an old car. Then I notice the pock-marked stone walls and the variety and quality of those textures. Being a 3D modeler myself and having worked on a video game before, I find that I am no longer focused on the “mission”, but, have instead wandered down an alley to look at more textures. “Look at the detail on those old wood doors! Look at those tires. Nice. Hey – that looks just like one of our concrete textures. Nice aging on that…”
Suddenly, I hear the sound of dull thuds as my screen shudders a bit, wobbles, then turns blurry and drops to the ground and to the side all the while as a red color like clotted blood appears around the edges and spreads to the center.
I am dead. I got more interested in looking at the textures than spotting bad guys.
Textures can get you killed…