Don't worry, I do this all the time in GTA
Over the last week, I've downed a ten-ton animal, stabbed a man in the throat, blown myself up with a grenade, and loved every second of it. In case that needs clarifying, I did all of these things within the context of video games. That's good for me, because if someone told me to kill a dragon in real life with nothing but a bow and arrow and the power of positive thinking, I'd be screwed by more than petrifying fear, deep-seated confusion, and dragon teeth. As easily as I can land an arrow in an enemy's chest in a game, I can barely get one ten feet in real life.
Thankfully this meat-land impotency isn't unique to me, and the fantasy of doing what you never could in the real world is one of gaming's cornerstones. Still, games often simplify common tasks for ease of use, and like a jury full of Law and Order enthusiasts, we might get the idea that these things are way easier to do in real life than they actually are (no goddamnit, you can't enhance that photograph). Take, for instance, these tasks that are way easier in games than in real life. I guarantee you've done at least one of these things in some game somewhere. Pressing two buttons and waggling a stick to stop a nuclear meltdown? Doesn't cut it IRL. Probably.
How it's done in games: Stick something in a lock and twist it around until the door opens and/or poke the metal bits inside until they spring into place.
But really If you've never seen a key in action this is a good visual. Your goal is to get the lock pins in just the right spot that they can separate along the sheer line, which is the part that most games get right. But many leave off a second tool to put rotational pressure on the pins, despite it being critical in real life (because if the pins stay in place on their own, you've got one shitty lock). Most games also have obvious visual indicators of how you're doing, when in reality the best you can hope for some clicks and maybe a little vibration down the pick. It's all explained pretty well here but, er, don't tell anyone you got that from me.
Scaling a wall
How it's done in games: Grab the top of the wall, take a second to pull yourself up, go on your merry way.
But really This one's depends on individual physicality, so maybe you can personally lift your entire body from full hanging position without breaking a sweat. But if scaling fences to escape busted college parties taught me-y friends anything, it's that pulling it off quickly and gracefully is way harder than it looks. Think about doing a pull-up, but instead of struggling to get your chin above the bar, you have to get your chin, then your shoulders, then the rest of you up and over, and that's if the wall is short. Then take into account that many characters do this while packing things like heavy weaponry or human bodies, and you realize that in the real world, many of us normies would be doing less of this and more of this.
Shooting a big gun
How it's done in games: Point gun, pull trigger.
But really When it comes to video game shooting, players get the luxury of just aiming and pulling the trigger, you don't have to handle all the science-y bits behind it. Specifically Newton's third law of motion, which says that the force required to propel a bullet from a gun is going to be exerted in equal measure on the shooter. Some modern games try to imitate the resulting recoil by making the gun sight shift, but that doesn't show how important factors like stance, weight and control are to proper shooting. Also, while it is possible to reduce recoil, a rifle kick can still mess you up if you're not prepared for it, and it just gets worse the bigger the projectile is. So, you know, good luck with that.
Shooting a small gun
How it's done in games: Point gun, pull trigger.
But really A smaller gun may not have the same degree of recoil as a big one, and is generally easier to handle overall, but it comes with its own set of challenges. Accuracy in particular, since you don't have your shoulder and cheek to stabilize the weapon, so errant finger twitches can spell the difference between a headshot and getting eaten alive by the enemy of the week (probably zombies probably). Oh, and did I mention gravity and wind resistance? And that doing anything else - say, moving at all - while trying to fire is going to do a number on the accuracy of even skilled shooters? And that, despite the decreased kick, the recoil fool rule still totally applies? Starter gun indeed.
Firing an arrow
How it's done in games: Grab an arrow, aim the pointy end at the bad guys, and let fly!
But really Okay, this one has to be easy, right? You just take a deadly projectile and slingshot it into your enemy's chest, like how you used to snap rubber bands in school except way more badass. But as plenty of overly enthusiastic teens fans found out when they started archery lessons after watching The Hunger Games, it's not nearly as simple as that. Consider having to deal with all the same issues you have with a gun - stance, accuracy, environmental effects, it coming back with a big 'ol bag of screw you when you don't use it right - but then imagine you regularly mess up pulling the trigger. Games tend to gloss over most of these tough bits, even the part when a character first starts learning and really should suck. How else do you explain Jason 'Hawkeye' Brody?
Cracking a safe (by sound alone)
How it's done in games: Turn the dial while listening for appropriately loud clicks, open safe, sneak into the night like a badass.
But really When it comes to giving a stealth game that extra layer of sneakitude, lock-picking and safe-cracking are two of the genre's favorite flavors. And what do you know, they're both way more difficult than games let on! Specifically, games tend to go for the tried and true ear-to-the-door method used in old spy movies, except it's neither tried nor true in reality. While it is possible to crack a safe by listening for telltale clicks which indicate whether or not you've landed on part of a number in the safe's combo, it takes a hell of a lot longer than the minute or two it takes John Marston. And that's if you're sitting in silence with something to amplify the sound. If you're dealing with ominous ambient ghost noises? There's a reason real safe crackers just use drills.
Defusing a bomb
How it's done in games: Hack it with your bomb-defusing smartphone app, or if that doesn't work, cut the green wi - SWEET LORD NOT THE BLUE WIRE!!!
But really While games generally point out that bomb disposal is a delicate and easily borked process, what the characters actually do when they're getting it done is fairly simple, like hacking it or cutting the right wires. Except why would the person planting the bomb leave it vulnerable to a hackjob that can be done in less than 60 seconds, or give you a serial number to help figure out the wire situation? In real life, techniques like this are the last line of defense and dealing with most bombs involves complex procedures that are largely kept hidden from the public. So, fair, you can't blame games for not being privy to national secrets. But it does suggest that Counter-Strike may not be a wholly accurate military shooter.
Harmlessly knocking someone out
How it's done in games: Just a good whack to the back of the head or neck, and they'll wake up in a few hours none the wiser.
But really Yes, none the wiser, except maybe with a serious case of brain damage and/or death holy shit what did you do?! While many stealth games bill a good whack to the melon as a non-violent alternative to giving a guard a different kind of shoulder blade, that's realistically less kinder and more slower. What causes the person to pass out is their brain rattling around their skull so hard it short-circuits, and the longer they're out the more likely it is that they've suffered catastrophic brain damage. Hitting a person's neck to trigger a pressure point is no better by the way, because that shit can lead to cardiac arrest. Not the sort of thing you use to put your friend down for a nap Axel, you fucking psychopath.
You are not prepared
While it may be easy to say games are dumbing down these complex tasks before cranking some grunge rock and decrying how the man is keeping us down, it's really more about streamlining than anything else. You want the gaming experience to be fun and entertaining, so a little simplification isn't the end of the world! Just don't come out of Thief thinking you're ready for real well, thieving. Got any tasks you think should be here? Have you foolishly tried any of these yourself? Was that grunge rock joke up there about two decades too late? Tell me in the comments below, and dear God, don't try any of this at home!
Before you head off to archery practice because Tomb Raider didn't make you an instant expert, how about some more awesome articles on video game realism? Check out Unrealistic realism in video games and Top 7 Unrealistic things most games do (that we're cool with).