Visual unrealism in computer games

Philip McClenaghan, Clive Fencott, Paul Van Schaik

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


The ongoing development of graphics- and physics-engine technology is leading to increasingly sophisticated methods for the attainment of so-called realism in computer games. Indeed, the purported level of realism of a particular game is often used in the promotion of that game. A number of authors, however, have pointed out certain inconsistencies or contradictions associated with the claims that a particular computer game is realistic. This stems in part from the, at times, apparent arbitrary use of the term realism and also from the observations of these authors that realism in computer games is neither completely achievable nor indeed always desirable. Unrealism, which is defined in this paper as a device employed to clarify, enhance or suggest an understanding of a concept through deliberate distortion, is employed by designers to overcome the limitations of realism in computer games. Although alluded to by various authors, unrealism has not, as yet, been subjected to rigorous analysis. The aim of this paper is to explore unrealism, primarily on a visual level - Visual Unrealisms (VUs) and to present a model which illustrates how VUs appear to function. This, it is proposed, provides a foundation that may be built upon through further research in order to establish a practical model of General Unrealisms (GUs) for effective application in the design and analysis of computer games.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationComputer Games and Allied Technology 08, CGAT 08 - Animation, Multimedia, IPTV and Edutainment, Proceedings
Number of pages8
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2008
EventComputer Games and Allied Technology 08: Animation, Multimedia, IPTV and Edutainment - Singapore, Singapore
Duration: 28 Apr 200830 Apr 2008


ConferenceComputer Games and Allied Technology 08
Abbreviated titleCGAT 08


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