Realism A first aid kit would contain bandages, antiseptics, painkillers and other items actually used in the healing process, so at first glance this seems at least semi-plausible. But the speed with which this healing occurs approaches tinfoil-hat levels of insanity. Also, the application of first aid products take a bit of care: Stepping on a first aid kit would have about the same effect as sitting on a doctor. _____________
For example, stepping on this turkey will heal Guy as much as stepping on three Manwiches. Game Mechanics Basically the same as a first aid kit, although if the game is good you'll get to see some clever eating animations. Curiously, games with food in them are notorious for having multiplayer modes where you can really screw over your friends by eating their food. Just like a Turkish prison. Realism In a strictly biological sense, healing is just a macroscopic perspective of cellular regrowth, a process which requires the body to have a source of energy. This energy is commonly supplied by food - at least in the non-plant protagonists common in video games. But as with first aid kits, it's the speed with which these entire chickens are digested and turned into re-grown tissue which defies belief. Some extremely dubious experiments conducted on homeless people in the 50s concluded that a hot dog's ability to heal puncture wounds is dreadfully slow. _____________ 3) Miscellaneous Collectible Items (Potions, Stimpaks, Herbs, Fairies, Mushrooms, etc) As Seen In: Role Playing Games, Action Games, Adventure Games, Jewel's Foolish Games and everything else. How it Works Again very similar to first aid kits and food above, with the form of the specific healing item being determined by the dream logic of the universe the game takes place in. In this case, the items are collectible and can be stored for use at a later time. Game Mechanics The ability to save and collect healing items provides flexibility to the player, which is generally a good thing. This also requires the game to have an "inventory system," which can be best thought of as a friendly invisible Sherpa who can freeze time during a battle, heal you and help change your trousers into a pair more appropriate to this particular fight. (Inventory systems probably deserve their own separate whiny-article) Realism The feasibility of using most of these items as healing agents is sharply limited by the fact that they don't actually exist, or if they do, don't exhibit any of the healing properties displayed in games. Ingesting random herbs or mushrooms is as likely to wreck you as it is to help you, and approaching a real life fairy and asking them to heal you is a recipe for its own type of hilarious disaster. _____________ 4) Waiting Around As Seen In: Every First Person Shooter since 2002 How It Works After getting hurt, all you need to do is find a place to hide. In games with this kind of healing mechanic, these are widely available - falling down is usually good enough. After five to 10 seconds of not getting injured, every one of your wounds will completely heal. Game Mechanics In terms of game mechanics, this completely prevents those unwinnable situations discussed above. Furthermore it encourages gamers to seek out and employ cover, which is something that earlier first person shooters didn't do. (Running sideways and bouncing up and down like a heavily armed aerobics instructor was the preferred combat technique back in those days.) Realism Completely ridiculous. In fact, sitting around doing nothing is perhaps the worst possible way to treat a traumatic injury. This is as irresponsible as suggesting to a friend that the best way to go cure diarrhea is to take off his pants and stand on his head – it's definitely not going to help, and will probably make things much worse. _____________ 5) Visiting the Inn As Seen In: Role Playing Games How It Works Broken leg? Torso violated by an orc? Arm severed above the elbow by a prickly drowish prostitute? Well just head down to the nearest Ramada, where a night on their reasonably priced sheets will sort that all out for you. You'll wake up the next morning with your limbs and orifices restored to their original count. Game Mechanics In RPGs, towns act as relatively safe hubs where the player can come to restock their equipment, discover new quests to go on and yes, restore their health. The open-ended nature of RPGs mean players can kill things effectively indefinitely, so cheap, effective methods of restoring player health are necessary. Also look for the tent, which serves as a portable inn, only eight times more ridiculous. Realism A good night's rest works great when you have a cold, or have just drank all the whiskey. But the concept of having traumatic injuries healed by a night's rest is insane. In fact your likelihood of even getting a hotel room while displaying open wounds is pretty unlikely these days, unless you're in the South or something. Historically, you're more likely to come out of a hotel room worse off than when you enter, given well-known outbreaks of bed bugs, Legionnaires disease and drug deals that go wrong in a chainsaw fashion.
_____________ 6) Cure Spells As Seen In: Fantasy Action Games and Role Playing Games How It Works Fucking magic, that's how. In practice you tell your party's healer to exchange some of their spell points for hit points. The exchange rates for this transaction are often very favorable. Game Mechanics Remember what I said about cheap and effective ways to heal wounds? Role playing games are somewhat unique in that the protagonist often has the agility of a post office and is expected to take huge amounts of damage quite regularly. This requires equally impressive healing techniques to keep these games from being short and depressing.
___________ An Alternative Solution At this point I think it's worth pointing out: I'm not a complete jackass. I get that games are supposed to be fun, and that a game where you have to work through eight months of grueling rehab every time you get shot, while your wife struggles to feed your family on disability benefits, would be a bit of a downer. So, seeing as we're forsaking realism entirely for the sake of fun, here's my proposed solution: