OpenSimWorld is the directory of 3D Virtual Worlds based on OpenSimulator and connected through the HyperGrid. Learn More

While SL embraces PBR in an attempt to embrace greater 'realism' using the increasingly creaky old technology we’re all familiar with there is a backlash among Generation Z and other younger demographics towards cutting edge gaming with hypereal graphics and an embracing of older, less graphically real aesthetics. Some of this may be down to the fashionable adoption of retro, as in the numbers buying things like typewriters and traditional film cameras, but is some of it also likely a backlash against the increasing trend for hyperrealism where it’s no longer really easy to spot something real from recorded game action.

I am not a gamer, hence there have been a few times when I’ve been watching videos purporting to be actions in the current Russo-Ukrainian war where the game graphics have been so good that they appear to be real, it’s only when one looks more intently that it becomes subtly obvious that it’s recorded game action and not footage of an actual battlfield encounter.

I’m aware of arguments that the graphics of SL/OS are ‘poor’ but I have never agreed as this is a very subjective area depending on so many different factors, such as the comparisons being made. Relative to Minecraft and Active Worlds the graphics of SL and Opensim are fantastic, but compared to a photograph or the hypereal renderings of high end computer graphics, very poor indeed. Personally I rather like the aesthetic of SL/Opensim and would argue that the aesthetics are neither good nor bad, but exactly what they are. I’m not arguing against hyperrealism for those who want it, but rather agruing that the current graphics are regarded as fine by the vast majority if those who use Opensim and SL.

This article in today’s Guardian prompted me to write the above after last week I read something about the implementation of PBR in Second Life. Sometimes maybe, less is more, and if the aesthetics of retro games are appealing to Generation Z and other demographics younger than the average found in Opensim, then maybe there is hope yet that our hobby will endure. After all, Active Worlds is now nearly in its 30th year, has a very faithful and dedicated community together with graphics that make Minecraft look good!