The weather portrayed in video games is not something that has ever stood out to me as something either lacking or too complex. Yet, after reading the article by Matt Barton it is apparent that, technologically speaking, games have a ways to go in order to accurately represent weather systems in a way that influences the gameworld and the characters. I would agree with Barton that more often than not weather is introduced as a simple decorative feature, to make the game more visually stimulating and appear more realistic. Other times, weather is plays a dramatic role, like the wind that threatens to blow players over in Never Alone.
The point that stood out to me the most, however, was that the lack of accurate representation of the weather had implications for real-life ecological awareness. Barton asks, “how can games acknowledge the threat of global warming when game characters fail to take notice of a torrential downpour on their heads?” And he goes even further to say that “failing to take notice of the weather- a natural phenomenon that has always eluded humanity’s power to control- is a way of denying the very central, dominant, and occasionally traumatic role that nature plays in our everyday lives.” This implication is not something I had ever previously considered, but knowing the level of influence that video games can have I can see how significant it could be. This begs the question then, do games that present themselves as realistic have some sort of obligation to create complex weather systems with real-time player-consequences? And, if they don’t, are they complicit in perpetuating a false sense of reality that could be detrimental to society?
These quandaries are complicated by the fact that games and their consoles simply do not have the processing power to create completely accurate weather effects. Barton even brings up an additional point that while we may want to strive for more realistic weather in games from an ecological perspective, this may add unnecessary complexity and difficulty to games, detracting from immersion and enjoyment. This debate for whether we should in fact place more emphasis on accurate weather is further nuanced by our simultaneous obsession with escaping reality through games and also having increasingly realistic games.