Gabe Newell Believes Realism Should Not Be Top Priority For Games

"I Never Thought Realism Is Fun!"

Story Highlights
  • Half-Life just turned 25, and Valve has released a documentary about its creation.
  • This documentary includes Gabe Newell’s thoughts on game development, including his opinion of fun.
  • He believes fun is paramount to games and should be put above realism.

As games have evolved, graphics have become a crucial part of the experience. With new technologies like ray tracing, modern games aim to blur the lines between reality and fiction.

However, in doing so, they often forget one important element. At the heart of gaming lies the aspect of fun. This is certainly what Gabe Newell seems to think, recently claiming that he prefers a fun game above a realistic one.

Why it matters: Modern gamers are often quick to dismiss games that don’t impress visually since realism and graphics have become ingrained in everyone’s mind as the bar for a good AAA game.

YouTube video

Speaking about the creation of Half-Life, the founder of Valve described his thought process for designing a good game. He believes games should be as unrealistic as they want as long as this decision facilitates the fun parts.

When recalling discussions about game design, he pointed to times when others would point out a choice or feature for its lack of realism. However, this did not matter for Gabe Newell, and he would respond:

“I have never though to myself that realism is fun.”

Ultimately, the developer wanted to drive home the point that fun should be at the forefront of a game. What that fun means for the player, however, can vary from game to game.

Half Life 2 Remaster

It is important to note that this statement does not imply fun and realism cannot coexist in a game.

A game like Red Dead Redemption 2 has been able to merge realism with fun through an immersive open world and engaging gameplay mechanics. Numerous developers have achieved similar results through precise game design.

Gabe Newell is not the only gaming personality to share such an opinion. A famous quote from Nintendo’s Reggie Fils-Aime has always popped up when the subject of fun in games is discussed, where he states:

“If it’s not fun, why bother?”

Following this documentary, various developers have chimed in, agreeing with this sentiment. Dillon Rogers, who worked on DUSK, claims games should be engaging before they are realistic.

In the same documentary, Gabe Newell shared his thoughts on other parts of the games industry. He is in favor of game delays, stating that a delay is just temporary, while a poor game becomes a permanent blemish.

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