Skip to main content

Angelini Talks Gaming With DEVGRU Operator Craig Sawyer

Is Too Much Realism A Bad Thing?

Tom’s Hardware: What do you see as the greatest misconception about real-world combat perpetuated by games or movies, both with regard to weapons and hand-to-hand?

Craig Sawyer: Wow, there’s a lot to share with this one. I'd say the greatest misconception is in the lack of consideration of "team" in gaming. I understand why the single-player component of games is so important, but that's something very different from the reality of Spec Ops. In the real world, we move as a well-coordinated unit, acting in unison to navigate through dangerous situations with each man covering the others. You don't just go sprinting around, making stuff up as you go. There's a real objective and a team effort to consider. That comes first.

The second greatest misconception has to do with combat casualties. Emergency medical treatment is something we must deal with a lot in the real world. When you're in close proximity and there's a heavy volume of fire, people are usually getting hit, which means serious injury or death. That's not a very fun element to add to a game. In a training simulator, I would incorporate that at the highest level of importance, just under the primary skill set of kicking ass and winning the fight. 

As for hand-to-hand combat, it should be made much more realistic, even in games. I'm a fighter. I grew up fighting on the street, in tournaments, and then really got into the combat style of hand-to-hand in the military. From that experience, I can assure you a man doesn't go down faster from one knife slash than he does from multiple shots to the face at close range. That's one thing that has always bugged me about games and movies. If you're going to take someone out with a knife, it should be made more difficult to achieve and definitely not instantaneous. Multiple shots to the brain, or one through the brain from a larger caliber, will give you that instant incapacitation effect. Other, less lethal options should be adjusted to be more realistic.

A greater emphasis on teamwork is missing from today's games, according to Craig

Tom’s Hardware: This actually goes both ways, too. Can a game still be fun if I get shot, say, in the leg and consequently lose significant mobility until I’m able to "med-up?" The concept of damage as a percentage of health seems so egregiously unrealistic, and I’d be curious to see what a game could do with a better sense of “damage zones” and what they mean to combat effectiveness.

Craig Sawyer: I'd like to see something like this develop further, too. As a war fighter, it's important to know the proper response to common combat trauma wounds. If you don't know what to do, Murphy's Law demands your buddy will bleed out unnecessarily over something you could have easily prevented with the appropriate aid. Direct pressure, timely application of a tourniquet, clearing the airway, and executing a needle decompression cover the overwhelming majority of immediate, life-threatening combat trauma situations. If you know how and when to perform those basics, you can save a lot of your brothers. First, you have to win the fight, though. It's no good working to save your buddy if you're both still under effective fire.

Presenting some of those ideas in a more realistic combat game could be rewarding if they're done correctly. It's one more responsibility we have in the real world. One more thing to prepare for that means the difference between life and death. I think it's the next logical step in tactical gaming.

  • jaquith
    Very interesting article and special thanks to Craig Sawyer!

    We did not pursue questions that would violate OPSEC
    Yeah, we wouldn't want another MoH overreaction.

    The lack of a fatigue factor, even in fairly realistic first-person shooters, has always bothered me. Most titles allow you to sprint briefly before slowing down to a run, but you’re able to shoot, jump, and then, seconds later, sprint again. Is this something that needs to change in the next generation of games, or would "the real thing" be a total turn-off for a gamer?
    Try Paintball. Otherwise VR with electric shock. Either way, IMO very few want total or close to realism in gaming other than theatrics. Listen, I've been shot by a 22mm that grazed off my knee taking-off a piece of meat -- getting welted-up from paintball's or electric shock is a cake walk.

    Personally, I'm far from a SEAL (really far) but I like my guns, and my Glock 19 with a LaserMax will make folks think twice about leaving in a home invasion - it's there as fast as I can reach. The POF-USA P308-12-MRR 7.62mm NATO is indeed sweet and ain't cheap; just what every 'deer' hunter needs.
    Reply
  • Pawessum16
    Correction on page 2:
    Tom's Hardware: I think all gamers remember the Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 scene where you're a sniper in the top floor of a building in Chernobyl. As a real U.S. Navy SEAL sniper, how accurate is this experience?
    I remember that so well that I know for a fact that it happened in the original Modern Warfare, ie COD4: Modern Warfare.....before they stopped the numbering.
    And after finishing reading the article, I'd like to add that it was pretty great. To someone like me who doesn't know a thing about real world combat, it was very insightful, and Sawyer made some good points about the direction of the gaming industry in regards to shooters.
    Reply
  • Chewie
    Accuracy's my biggest problem with Crysis, to this day. I especially remember a point early in the first game where I like to lie down in the grass and take out the Norks manning MG emplacements that just can't seem to see me. The problem was, with the Assault Scope I was taking 3 or 4 shots to get a head shot on these guys. The reticle covered the whole head! I checked the range range with the visor, or binocs, or whatever, and got a range of 80m!
    Now, I'm no sniper dude, but I can get multiple 2 inch 5 round groups at 200 metres with the Steyr AUG, and that has a 1.5x optical scope. Also, no cool crysis suit to help. So at 80m, firing from prone, you bet your arse I can pick which eye to take out. But not in Crysis. Most of the other stuff about that group of games is cool, but the accuracy issue drives me nuts every time.
    Reply
  • army_ant7
    Tom’s Hardware: What is Sleep, Eat, and Lift?

    Craig Sawyer: Hey! Are you punking me, man!? Hah.
    Chris, I bet you were making your prayers and cringing already while he was saying that. :lol:
    I'm kidding of course. :P But I know I would, knowing that guy could snap my neck with one hand! :lol:

    That aside, a great read! I thank you and Mr. Sawyer there. :D I giggled at the thought of how ridiculous the things we do in games are, and imagined it in real life. Seeing those CoD (and others) commercials would make think they're silly now albeit still cool. :lol:
    Reply
  • blackmagnum
    He could run for governor of California...
    Reply
  • US_Ranger
    Good article. I especially liked the part about posers. That shit always bothers me and I've run into my fair share of them as well.

    Sua Sponte Craig, good luck in your new endeavors.
    Reply
  • mapesdhs
    Thankyou so much for this article Chris! The most interesting piece I've read on any site for
    a long time.

    Best wishes & respect to Craig and all his colleagues.

    Ian.

    Reply
  • happyballz
    ChewieAccuracy's my biggest problem with Crysis, to this day. I especially remember a point early in the first game where I like to lie down in the grass and take out the Norks manning MG emplacements that just can't seem to see me. The problem was, with the Assault Scope I was taking 3 or 4 shots to get a head shot on these guys. The reticle covered the whole head! I checked the range range with the visor, or binocs, or whatever, and got a range of 80m!Now, I'm no sniper dude, but I can get multiple 2 inch 5 round groups at 200 metres with the Steyr AUG, and that has a 1.5x optical scope. Also, no cool crysis suit to help. So at 80m, firing from prone, you bet your arse I can pick which eye to take out. But not in Crysis. Most of the other stuff about that group of games is cool, but the accuracy issue drives me nuts every time.
    I personally participate in bolt-action rifle competitions up to 1000yards but...AUG A’s 1.5x optical scope with 2 inch groups at 200m? You better have used a fully locked bench rest for that...AKA you were just pressing the trigger and the bench was holding aim. Otherwise I really doubt your "consistent" 5 round groups; I have used A1's reticle 1.5x scope before, and after 100-150 yards the "donut" reticle covers too much to know where the true center is. So you either very lucky repeatedly or are over exaggerating a bit.
    Reply
  • mayankleoboy1
    happyballzSo you either very lucky repeatedly or are over exaggerating a bit.
    Or he has practiced lots and lots more than you
    Reply
  • stevelord
    One of my favorite experts on Top Shot. Can't wait till the next season (which has been filming since September I believe.)
    Reply