Video games are not realistic; not even the realistic ones. You press 'x' to somersault, and you somersault instead of awkwardly falling on your head and rolling around, which is what would happen if you actually attempted a somersault. We know and accept that video games aren't supposed to reflect reality. But some of the ways in which they differ are downright ridiculous when you think about them. For some reason, we accept that ...
5All Animals Are Insane
Occurs In: Far Cry, GTA, Elder Scrolls, Red Dead Redemption
If you've ever seen a wild animal in the real world, you already know most of them are startled by tiny noises and flee from humans. In a video game world, every animal leaps directly at your face. It doesn't matter if you're holding fire, made of fire, or blasting fire out of a revving chainsaw -- every animal is determined to maul you to death with beak, claw, or flipper.
"Seriously?! What kind of asshole brings a knife to a bear fight?"
In Red Dead Redemption, bears stalk the woods in eight-bear combat squadrons. In Far Cry, they maniacally charge toward the sound of gunfire. You even have to fight them in the fucking Simpsons arcade game. And if your game has sharks? That shark's only goal in life is biting you in half, end of discussion. Despite you being far, far outside their natural food chain, every video game animal wants to eat you at all costs.
Let's take a closer look at Far Cry. Any wildlife you encounter in the series is overtly, absurdly aggressive. Warthogs, snakes, even goddamn EAGLES. Look at this madness. Has any eagle ever decided to up and leave the troposphere to impulsively peck the face off a random gunman? For something like this to happen, God has to sit on His remote, but in video games, it is every eagle's default setting.
We guess watching warring tribes go at it from above has lost some of its luster.
In Fallout, every insect and mammal within 100 yards will stop what it's doing to eat you. Even gentle creatures like a radioactive two-headed deer might suddenly decide you need to be headbutted to death. And any game with mountain lions features only one type of mountain lion: the North American Dick-Charging Puma. GTA is set in a noisy analogue of LA, but every nearby hiking trail is infested with speeding, ball-seeking cougars.
"Ball-seeking SoCal cougars? I like the sound of AAARGH! I was thinking of the other kiiiiiiinnd!!!"
4All People Are Also Insane
Occurs In: Borderlands, Fallout, Fable, Metro: Last Light, The Division
Every good game has to have bad guys. Otherwise, why are you bothering to add saw blades to that baseball bat? What's strange is that all video games are set in a world where lunatics are everywhere. If you take four steps outside a town in any adventure game, the only people you meet introduce themselves with attempted murder.
"HI! EXCELLENT WEATHER WE'RE HAVING, RIGHT?"
Take, again, Fallout. There are a handful of major peaceful settlements in each game, filled with shoppers and other such non-aggressive humans. Beyond are smaller settlements scraping together whatever civilization they can. Beyond that, the other 98 percent of the world will murder every single stranger on sight.
In Fallout 4 specifically, there's one side mission in which a farmer wants you to rescue his son from a band of raiders nearby. So you go to the factory where the raiders are holed up and slaughter 40 or 50 of them. You finally massacre your way to the kid, only to discover he wasn't kidnapped -- he joined them. The kid had the choice of working the farm with his loving father or squatting in a rusty, lava-filled factory with a group of murderers. And not just any murderers, but murderers so bad at murder that they live right next to three unkilled farmers. In Fallout, that's an easy choice: better to be a shitty murderer than a great farmer.
"YOU NEVER LET ME BE MYSELF, DAD! NOT LIKE SLAG! SLAG LETS ME KILL SETTLERS WITH POOL CUES!!"
And it's not only the Fallout world where morality is completely absent from everyone except for shopkeepers. In Skyrim, Fable, Mass Effect, and countless others, there are 1,000 bandits and gang members for every peaceful townsperson. Meeting someone in a video game who isn't trying to kill you is like meeting a Syrian refugee who thinks Donald Trump makes some great points.
Even in Bioshock Infinite -- an artistic, intelligent, beautifully crafted game -- the whole world is assholes. The main villains are horrible racists, sure, but even the "good" guys are completely fine with casual murder. As in most games, the entire point seems to be "everyone sucks but you." And in both Far Cry 3 and 4, the "good guys" turn out to be much closer to "drug-peddling mass murderers." It's interesting to have a moral gray area, but video games always take it to impossible extremes. For example, the "good guys" in Far Cry 3 ask you to slit your girlfriend's throat ...
"Press RT to murder. Press LT to murder slightly differently."
And though the moment is dramatic, you've been trained by video games to accept this as a normal, approachable dilemma. "Hmm, should I? On the one hand, I love her. On the other hand is this knife, which really wants to stab ..."