How It Works

When will videogames look like real life?

In some respects, the CG animations used in videogame cut-scenes can already look uncannily realistic. However, the human eye works differently to a monitor, and the brain very differently to a computer, so the way we perceive realism and the way we re-create it are hard to compare. For starters, our eyes and retinas are curved. So although we can easily calculate, say, the screen resolution of a videogame in dots per inch (dpi), that assumes viewing it on a flat screen of a fixed size at a fixed distance. However, human vision works in arcs – an object’s sharpness and clarity appearing minutely different depending on how close it is. Today’s videogames and monitors can comfortably handle resolutions of up to 1,920 x 1,080 dpi, but the human eye is capable of seeing much more subtle detail. Videogames are also viewed on a single screen whereas we see the world with two eyes that cover much wider peripheral vision. Even when playing a 3D game on several linked 3D monitors, it’s a long way from being as convincing as the real thing.

Answered by Mike Anderiesz.