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Popular Video Game Mechanics and How They Compare to Real-Life

After playing video games for more than two decades and living for over 3 and a half decades, I’ve been thinking about how popular video game mechanics compare to real life actions. Some games like Red Dead Redemption 2 strive for realism, to the point that the game gets a bit tedious to play, while others go far beyond what is possible in real life.

Related: 5 Reasons To Wait Months Before Playing a Big New Game

Both of these types of games are great and this isn’t an article screaming for more realism in games. Instead, we are taking a fun look at some of the most popular video game mechanics I am sure everyone has experienced and comparing them with real-life actions. Surprisingly, a few comparisons turn out to be very similar.

Fast Traveling

Over the past year, I’ve talked to Marco about how awesome it would be to have fast travelling (or teleportation) in real-life, since I live in Port Elizabeth, far away from all the big events that take place in South Africa. It would be grand to have the ability to instantly travel to locations once you’ve explored an area.

Unfortunately, teleportation doesn’t exist in real-life but wouldn’t it just be grand? If you could drop in with a wingsuit like in Far Cry 5 and New Dawn, that would be even better for those daredevils out there. However, the next video game mechanic does exist and we are all very thankful for the tech involved.


Being able to set a waypoint in a video game is a gameplay mechanic that most big RPGs or open-world titles in general have. It is an essential mechanic that allows you to easily navigate to certain areas without having to open up the world map over and over again to see where you are headed – looking at you Anthem…

In real life, we have a perfect waypoint counterpart in the form of GPS navigation. Some cars have a GPS built in and if you don’t have a car with that feature, you can always just use an app on your mobile device. Therefore, most people out there should have access to the real-life waypoint system. In the “wise” words of Blizzard when announcing Diablo: Immortal – Don’t you guys have phones?

The Inventory

Some games allow you to carry hundreds of items at a time and it is all very unrealistic, yet it is also one of the most needed video game mechanics out there. We saw the issue with Fallout 76‘s carry weight limit at launch and Bethesda has doubled it by now. Carrying a tonne of items in a video game is something we’ve all gotten used to, but how does it compare to real life?

Well, not good at all. Have you ever tried to carry your own weight on your back? It is pretty tough (impossible for me) and some games allow you to carry items 10 or even 20 times your supposed character weight. It is as if most video game protagonists have been hitting the gym and taking steroids for longer than their title in question has been in development, and then some. Some games, however, get things right, with a prime example being Resident Evil 2. As a survival title, the carry limit on items is very realistic and this realism also makes for some interesting inventory management and choices.

Food Consumption

Many games, especially survival titles, require you to eat and drink food just like in real life. However, most of these games take things a bit too far, because who really needs to eat or drink every 5 minutes? Unless you are on a cleanse, you will probably never need to drink as much water as you do in Metal Gear Survive, as an example. Even weirder, you can chow a feast, prepared by some cat-like creatures, in 60 seconds in Monster Hunter World.

Saying that, however, you do need to eat and drink each day to stay healthy, even if you’re on a video game binge. Don’t be like that kid who’s mom had to feed him by hand, please. Although an unrealistic depiction of food and beverage consumption compared to that of real life, many video games still implement this feature and when done well, it can put a bigger enthesis on urgency in survival titles.

Healing & Regen

It’s magical when you just run over a medkit or health pack and instantly heal up to full in a video game. Not to mention taking cover for a few seconds after being hit by multiple bullets and your health just goes back to full. Healing and regeneration is definitely something that video games do completely differently from real life, and that’s okay because otherwise, every game would be an absolute chore to play.

Imagine the DOOM Guy needing to make an appointment at the doctor when a demon attacks him. Then, after waiting forever, he gets his diagnosis and needs to head to the pharmacy, standing in a massive line while the forces of hell continue to invade. You don’t really get any games that do healing and regeneration right compared to real life, but as mentioned earlier, if games did this, it would make for a very boring experience.

Death and Respawning

There are only two things that are a certainty in life – Death and Taxes. In video games, death isn’t a big deal, as you will just respawn and continue on doing stupid things like driving off a cliff in GTA, or maybe screaming Leeroy Jenkins and killing your whole dragon-hunting party.

These video game mechanics do get realistic in some games that feature a permadeath mode and I, for one, love to play Diablo III with seasonal hardcore characters for that fear of death in the game. Other games, although not realistic, punish you for dying twice in a row, such as Bloodborne of the Dark Souls franchise. Be that as it may, death shouldn’t be a big issue in video games and I am very thankful that taxes aren’t a thing either. Maybe we should all just “Git Gud”?

git gud

Which popular video game mechanics do you think compares well to that of real-life and do you enjoy realism or prefer fun gameplay mechanics? Let us know in the comment section below.

Marco is the owner and founder of GLITCHED. South Africa’s largest gaming and pop culture website. GLITCHED quickly established itself with tech and gaming enthusiasts with on-point opinions, quick coverage of breaking events and unbiased reviews across its website, social platforms, and YouTube channel.

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