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“Dad, it’s raining outside!”

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“Dad, it’s raining outside!”

Children love rain and my 3 years old kid Santi is not an exception. He was very happy today, looking out at the rain through the window. The pollution and the drought were seriously hitting the city and the whole region and the rain came to give all of us a bit of a relief.

Rain in Zelda: A Link to the Past
Rain has been used in videogames since this industry started. This screenshot is from “Zelda: A Link to the Past” for the SNES console.

Rain in videogames

Rain has always been present in videogames, just as in literature, movies and other fields of art.

Videogames being interactive experiences, one of their main objectives is to make the player “believe” the experience as much as possible. This “immersion”, as this “feel the experience” thing is called, is achieved through the ambience, the game mechanics and also with the direct and indirect messages that are given to the player. The videogame (actually, the game designer) wants the player to feel that it’s part of the game world, and the only way to actually achieve that is to make him see, hear and experience something super coherent with that world.

Rain is, indeed, an excellent tool to accomplish that objective. For instance, a dark and rainy night in a mystery solving videogame will push the player to feel a bit more insecure and expectant, in a mostly unconscious way.

Also, in some games, rain can also be a key gameplay element, directly affecting the player experience, such as making the floor slippery and causing the player to fall, or altering any other aspect of the gameplay mechanics.

I believe that the first game where I saw rain was “Lotus” for PC, the best racing videogame I recall playing in my whole childhood. I remember that while I was running I thought how “realistic” the rain looked and how cool was the effect of how the water splashed from the rear wheels of the car, or how much careful I had to be while driving because “obviously” the road was wet and slippery and it was easier to have an accident.

Rain in Lotus
Rain in “Lotus”, for PC.

Of course, over the years technology has made rain look and feel a lot more realistic. There are plenty of examples, such as “Heavy Rain” for PS3, a game in which the rain did not only look better, but was also a key element in the story and even in the game name.

Heavy Rain screenshot
Rain plays a key role in “Heavy Rain”, for PS3.

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Juan Pablo Lastra

Juan Pablo makes videogames since he was 8 and he is a father since 2004. Today, he has three children and he has worked in more than 20 videogames. He got interested on how paternity and the videogame industry are related and he decided to write about it, founding "Papa Game Dev"

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