Real-Life Things Video Games Always Screw Up

As realistic as video games have become, they can only really hope to graze reality, when it comes to being an accurate simulation of how things actually are. We've learned to accept a certain amount of video game logic and adapt, but just about every part of video gaming is inherently incorrect. So next time you launch your favorite game, don't forget that your escapism is fleeting, and everything you know is wrong.


Just about every video game ever made assumes that you're an inexhaustible man-machine, or a fat plumber with supernaturally athletic endurance, but running doesn't work like that. The average person will need to stop and catch their breath after a few moments of jogging, and if they haven't already twisted their ankle clean off, they'll need ten minutes and a shower before their next sprint.

Video games don't place these sad, sad limitations on their athletic heroes, who can sprint across the battlefield without breaking a sweat, but everyone needs an occasional break (and not just the five seconds Skyrim requires before returning you to full-speed). You can't just hold down that B button until you reach the end of the world. Of course, no one would really want to play a game where the wheezy hero needs to lie down every few minutes, so probably best to let this one slide.


A vast majority of video games involve jumping as an integral part of a character's set of moves, but consider this: How often do you jump in a given day? In the past month or so? The answer is probably in the low zeroes, unless you happen to be a professional trampolinist or hopscotch artist.

Still, we understand that, without jumping, games would be just, like, a long, difficult walk. Video game jumping, however, is never accurate. Mario's 25-foot vertical leap is absurd, and even the most pitiful first-person shooter jumps would blow out your knees if attempted in real life. Where's the game where you awkwardly stumble over that root on the front walkway because jumping over things is not an everyday human action?


Video games include a dozen types of swimming, and every single one of them acts like gravity is a hilarious science joke. In Mario-type swimming, you sink like a stone, don't need to breathe, and press a button to take a small stroke upwards. Sonic doesn't even swim — he just runs around in slow motion underwater, desperately searching for air bubbles. And if you fall into the water in Far Cry Primal, you'll just stay at whatever depth you've sunk to until you fight your way out, listening to your caveman warrior slowly choke.

Very rarely do you float to the surface like the average, air-filled living body, and either way ... everyone hates water levels. Can we agree that we'll just leave them out from now on? Forever? Please?


We've all played missions where we have to get to our objective without being spotted. Generally, that involves distracting a series of enemies, but mostly, it just entails not walking through an area with a ghettoblaster cranked to eleven. Because seriously, the enemies on patrol are usually really, really stupid and lazy. If a game's AI were tuned up to the level of real human suspicion and paranoia, Solid Snake would never make it through a single warehouse.

Guards hear a noise, take a look, and immediately go back to their Twitter feed, no matter how many stray beer bottles you kick around, and trigger-happy prison guards are legally blind if you're not directly in a searchlight. The only game that kinda got stealth right has been The Last Of Us, and that's only because the worst of the enemies were morel-headed monsters, and not really expected to behave rationally. But honestly, caring about violent intruders must be way below those guards' pay grade and their mall cop-level skills.


The only thing about combat that video games seems to get right is the almighty headshot. With great aim comes great decapitations, and one shot to the noggin will down just about anyone, helmet or no.

What games can't seem to nail consistently is the equally-powerful shot through the heart, or the crippling, thousand-times-more-meaningful nut-shot. And if you get shot in the arm or hand, and don't immediately die, how are you still using that arm to fire off your weapon? There's never been a clear answer why a single touch from one Goomba will kill Mario, but not the other way around. Granted, games would get pretty tiring if every battle was a Daredevil-like, 25-minute punchfest ... but an arrow to the knee should be an arrow to the knee. Turn off the game and come back in three months, when you can walk again.


If you whip the right walls in Castlevania, you'll find delicious turkey legs, and when you eat them, every injury you've sustained in battle will be immediately healed. It's gross, and nutritionally and historically inaccurate.

In many cases, food is used as a symbolic surrogate for healing, as though every bullet your body has taken just made you more hungry, and that bullet-riddled pancreas is no big deal. Mushrooms won't make you larger, whether you're Mario or Alice. All of the food in Bubble Bobble doesn't even do anything but add to your point total, making gluttony a goal, rather than a deadly sin. And if you use anything you've learned playing Cooking Mama, you'll almost definitely burn your house down and poison your family. In short, there's nothing that's ever happened to food in a video game that even remotely resembles real life.


Perhaps most egregiously, video games just don't understand the nature of death. It's only because every other aspect of video games from running to eating is so far off from reality that death has to be an impermanent and flexible part of gaming. We get three lives, or can earn extra lives, or just keep on respawning as the same guy until the match ends. Either way, death is generally not a big deal, which is the polar opposite of real life. Like eternal teenagers, we're under the impression that we're immortal, and our actions will not have long-lasting consequences. And in world of video games, we're right.

So maybe it isn't that video games really screw everything up, but make things better. We can run without getting tired, we're rarely subjected to food that doesn't fix all of our problems, and if we get shot in the head, we'll instantly return to safety with minimal repercussions. Because truly, real life sucks. Thanks for all your glorious mistakes, video games.