Much Realistic, Such Wow! A Systematic Literature Review of Realism in Digital Games

Katja Rogers, Sukran Karaosmanoglu, Maximilian Altmeyer, Ally Suarez, Lennart E. Nacke

In: CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems Proceedings. ACM International Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI-2022) April 30-May 5 New Orleans Louisiana United States ACM 2022.


Researchers reference realism in digital games without sufficient specificity. Without clarity about the dimensions of realism, we cannot assess how and when to aim for a higher degree of realism, when lower realism suffices, or when purposeful unrealism is ideal for a game and can benefit player experience (PX). To address this conceptual gap, we conducted a systematic review using thematic synthesis to distinguish between types of realism currently found in the digital games literature. We contribute qualitative themes that showcase contradictory design goals of realism/unrealism. From these themes, we created a framework (i.e., a hierarchical taxonomy and mapping) of realism dimensions in digital games as a conceptual foundation. Our themes and framework enable a workable specificity for designing or analyzing types of realism, equip future work to explore effects of specific realism types on PX, and offer a starting point for similar efforts in non-game applications.

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Deutsches Forschungszentrum für Künstliche Intelligenz
German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence