HP is BS: Realistic Damage Unrealistic

I was watching the trailer for the Wii U exclusive Devil's Third when I was reminded of my pet peeve about the lack of realism in video games. Not talking about double jumps , either - that's it's own discussion, and an issue with its own explanation/workarounds.

Let's ask ourselves: why are we okay with how unrealistic damage is portrayed?

I'm not talking about a character showing battle damage, like a bullet wound, a bloody lip, or tattered clothing. I'm talking about your hit/health points.

You like shooting games? Well, how many bullets can your soldier take (that is, aside from the oh-so-deadly headshot) before you're out of HP? Like fighting games? Enjoy the stab wounds from characters with weapons (looking at you, Vega!) or battling against powerful combatants who have the power to throw energy projectiles (I know that part isn't realistic, but in a world where it could happen, shouldn't damage act according to reality?), whose otherworldly powers only dent your health. Keep on fighting, you still have a couple of HP left!

We live in the age where "realism" in gaming is appreciated. We want the characters lips to sync with the words (unless it's dubbed, but even then...). We want rag-doll physics. Some go as far as photorealism in graphics. But if there's one thing that's rarely been realistic (if ever), it's the effects of violence.


I understand that from a gameplay perspective that there are certain things in video games that can't be realistic or else it completely alters gameplay (or even worse - NOT FUN). Not every game can work a fast pace like Hotline Miami, where dying is almost part of the learning curve.

But why do games like this exist? In The Empire Strikes Back, Luke Skywalker's hand was cut off in the duel against Darth Vader - because that's how Lightsabers work. Lightsaber goes through flesh like a hot knife through butter (or "realistically," a hot knife through air). But in this jewel of a game, Star Wars the Clone Wars: Lightsaber Duels, you have to hack and slash Wace Mindu until ALL of his HP goes down. You know what that says?


Mace Windu > Luke Skywalker

Is the fix that hard? They have to animate the whole thing anyway - so how about instead of the character model reacting as if they got hit BY A FREAKIN' LIGHTSABER, the animation shows that they blocked just in the nick of time and so their HP goes down?

There are workarounds to this issue, and animation is just one of them. The problem is that I don't think anyone thinks it's an issue, AND IT'S REALLY NOT! Will realistic damage change everything about gaming? Of course not. We don't "need" this kind of change to amplify our enjoyment of the medium. Games are fun the way they are, even if you just absorbed 20 bullets (but since you took a health pack, you're all good!)


But if we're going for real, that's a step I haven't seen anyone address.