Wednesday, 01 December 2021

Can we Achieve Photo-Realism in Video Games?

Author: Ace Weiss

We have been asking this question for a very long time, “can we achieve photorealism in video games?” And while it sounds so simple, it actually is a very complicated topic at the root of it. It’s been decades since the very first 3D games were released and when we look back, we see some major leaps in technological advancements, particularly in the field of visuals or 3D graphics.


(image credit: Rockstar Games)


The 90s era saw some major development in the visual graphics of video games, dedicated hardware was introduced to increase the graphical performance of the devices. It made possible many of the popular 3D games back in the days that otherwise seemed impossible. Games like GTA 5, CP 2077 and RDR 2 are testament to the fact how far technology has brought us, but that’s as close as we get to experiencing photorealistic graphics in video games.

And there are several reasons why we haven’t seen video games with photorealistic graphics. Technological restrictions are one of the major reasons why we can't achieve photorealism in games. According to Tim Sweeney, we would need a total of 40 teraflops of computing power in order to support photorealistic graphics in video games and that’s a LOT of computing power! 


(image credit: Rockstar Games)


The best we can get so far is around 30 teraflops and even that would cost us a fortune. Even if we could achieve 40 teraflops, it’d be so expensive that even a super rich hardcore gamer would think a hundred times before spending his cash, let alone rest of the casual gamers like me who can’t even afford to buy a PC that smoothly runs CP 2077 at ultra high graphics at a steady framerate.

Lastly, I don’t think that’s something that we really wish for, I mean photorealism can be cool and all but our mind is wired in a way that we like visuals that are more appealing and less “real” and that is why games like Pokemon Snap look super appealing to us and the characters, extremely adorable.

Although we are close to achieving photorealism in video games, we are still a long way from making it available to consumers like myself and probably millions of others at an affordable price.


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