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About this blog

I'll be analyzing video games, trying to apply real-world physics to them, and seeing how accurate or inaccurate they are.

Note: May not always be video games

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Time travel is a common theme throughout games. Due to the laws of physics, however, time travel is only possible in a few theoretical situations. Time travel backwards through time seems even less likely from a physics standpoint. However, these limitations make for interesting gameplay mechanics. For example, in The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, time travel is a major theme throughout the game. As the name implies, you play music through a flute-like instrument called an Ocarina to play different songs with special effects, including time travel.

During the game, after you've traveled into the future, you meet a man in a windmill playing a song. He's angry that, years ago, a boy with an ocarina came to the windmill and played that song, making the windmill spin out of control. This is the Song of Storms.

Travelling back in time, you can return to the windmill as a child. You meet the man, who has neither met you, nor knows the song. If you play the Song of Storms now, the windmill goes out of control, leading to the events that occurred in the future.

This creates a paradox. The man who taught you a song in the future learns that song from a younger version of you. Paradoxes like these only complicate the idea of time travel for physicists trying to determine if it would be physically possible or worthwhile to travel through time.


Super Mario Galaxy's hub world is known as the Comet Observatory. In its center is what a character describes as a "ball of flame" called the Beacon which powers the whole observatory. This beacon starts off small, but as the player collects Grand Stars, the beacon grows in size and changes color. This beacon changes color from burgundy, to orange, to yellow, green, greenish-blue, blue, and turquoise. I'm sure from this description your immediate thought is "star". However, if this beacon was really a star, the heat it would be releasing would be catastrophic for anyone nearby. Stars' gravitational pulls are powerful enough to control the movement of planets, let alone the effects it should have on Mario and the Observatory. Mario should be lucky he hasn't melted yet. Most 3d Mario games have been about collecting stars, but this is nowhere near the same thing.


Overwatch is a recent first person shooter by Blizzard. The game has become very popular due to its roster of 23 heroes and counting. However, some of the characters can be a bit unrealistic. For example, the character Lúcio wields a gun that fires sound at his enemies. He also has an ability that can push away any hero, including the 7'3" 550 lbs tank known as Roadhog. This gun has enough force to push Roadhog into the air. I'll be calculating the absolute minimum amount of force this ability has. Converting Roadhog's 550 lbs to kg, we get about 249.476 kg. To find the net force it would take for Roadhog to overcome the force of gravity, I'll use F=ma to find the force with the acceleration due to gravity being 9.8 m/s2. Using this equation, the gun would have a force of at least 2444.8648 newtons. This kind of power is insane for such a small weapon, especially considering this is done purely through sound, and surely this technology would be deadly for both the user and the target.


The Magnet Gloves from The Legend of Zelda series only appear in two of the series' games. This item works by either attracting your character to, or repelling the character away from, certain objects stuck into the ground. The interesting thing about this is that the item can "switch polarity" by the press of a button. Theoretically, this could be possible using electromagnets. If the current were able to switch directions, then the magnet should switch its polarities. Although, don't ask me why a game set in a magical medieval style is using electromagnets.


Thinking back on it, Super Mario Sunshine is one of the only games I can think of that does waves accurately. Let me explain. There are ropes throughout the game connecting platforms that allow Mario to walk across them. Mario can jump off of these ropes in order to gain some height, but what I noticed was that the rope after Mario jumped acted somewhat realistically. The rope created a wave. The wave started with an amplitude of about how much the rope was displaced while Mario was standing on it due to his weight, and after Mario jumped, the rope slowly stabilized at its original position. This is one of the few instances I can think of where they got such a small detail right in an otherwise physics-breaking game.


The Ground Pound is a common mechanic in some video games, usually used as an attack that involves your character slamming into the ground. Usually, this attack is visibly more powerful than a character's usual fall would be. Most games don't count landing on the ground as any sort of attack, but a ground pound will definitely do some damage. The problem with this is that in order to "create" more force to slam into the ground with, you must either increase your mass or acceleration downwards. This seems completely unlikely as no character is ever handed a bowling ball at the peak of their jump to increase their mass, and I'm sure nobody's using a jetpack upside down to increase downward acceleration.


Like Rocket Jumping, the Double Jump has become a staple feature for some platforming games. In order to perform this gravity defying action, a character would have to have the ability to, at any time, instantly create a force exactly equal to their current downward force due to gravity acting at their feet. Any greater, and they'd be floating upwards. Any less, and they'd be falling slowly. Creating this force acts as a normal force, like the force the earth enacts upon us as we just walk around. Theoretically, if someone were able to do this, they may be able to push enough to "jump" in the air again. Just remember, what goes up must come down.


Rocket Jumping has become a common occurrence in first person shooters. The idea is that detonating an explosive at your feet will allow your character to move much faster in exchange for damaging yourself. In Team Fortress 2, a cartoony class-based first person shooter by Valve, about 4 of the 9 classes have some way of "explosive" jumping, but today I'll be talking about the Rocket Launcher-wielding Soldier. One of the main characteristics of this class involves movement through the air using rocket jumping. The problem is the damage. I'm sure you realize that any sort of explosion could be fatal to a normal human being. However, in Team Fortress 2, a weapon exists that acts the same as a Rocket Launcher, but does no damage. This weapon is called the Rocket Jumper, for obvious reasons. Realistically, if an explosive had the force to knock you into the air, the force alone would be enough to kill you. Not to mention the other classes' forms of jumping, such as grenade launchers, flare guns, rocket-shooting sentry turrets, and defying gravity by jumping in the air up to 5 times.


A few days ago, I was speaking to a friend about the effect that building a real-life Death Star would have on the earth. Sure, we don't exactly have the engineering or astronomical knowledge to make that a reality, but it's interesting to think about the effects of such a massive change. If we assume that the Death Star has properties nearly identical to our own moon in terms of mass and radius, we would definitely expect a change in tides due to its gravitational pull on the earth. Also, if the Death Star were orbiting our earth as our moon does, we would either have twice as many eclipses due to the two "moons", or the two would end up crashing into each other. These are things to consider when working on such a massive scale. The bigger a change you make, the more it affects the smaller details.

Also, the government told us no.


While this topic isn't directly associated with video games, graphics cards do have some physics related to them. A gpu (graphics processing unit) is a component of a computer that, as you may guess, is what allows images to be displayed. A gpu can be integrated into the cpu (central processing unit), or as part of a graphics card, something that can be added into a desktop computer if the motherboard supports it. One company that designs gpus, NVIDIA, names most of their gpu microarchitectures after prominent scientists, mathematicians, and innovators. These include Tesla, Fermi, Kepler, Maxwell, and most recently, Pascal. All of these people had incredible impacts on the world of science and mathematics, providing theories and ideas we still use today.


Most of us can understand that video games are not meant to be realistic. Some games, however, ignore certain aspects of physics. For example, the classic Mega Man franchise is about a future society that has widely accepted robots and artificial intelligence. The game is all about running, jumping, and shooting at robots to destroy them. However, two of these elements contradict each other in terms of physics. These two are jumping and shooting. In the game, Mega Man is clearly affected by gravity, as when he jumps, he reaches a peak and stops for a moment. However, most projectiles you can fire (aside from a few that simulate gravity) travel in the direction you fire with a constant speed and height. Logically, throwing a sawblade upright should end poorly (both in terms of safety, and replicating this attack).


Happy halloween! I decided to look at a spooky game today. In Luigi's Mansion, Luigi carries a vaccuum to capture ghosts. However, he can also use it to suck up gold bars. A gold bar weighs about 12.4 kilograms. If the vaccuum lifted the gold bars straight upward, the vaccuum would have to exert a force of suction greater than 121.644 newtons.


PaVG #6: Pong

Pong is a simple game that most can understand. It behaves similarly to a game of table tennis, and has had numerous iterations over the years. In its simplest form, the ball moves with constant velocity between two paddles until one misses it. In real life, the ball would have to exist on a frictionless surface and face purely elastic collisions with both paddles in order to retain a constant velocity without any forces acting on it. The closest we can come to this is air hockey, and even then the puck eventually slows down and does not retain velocity upon collision.


PaVG #5: Tetris

Tetris is a game about falling blocks. They fall at a constant velocity, or at a much faster rate. Realistically, gravity would cause the blocks to accelerate. Two options exist for Tetris to realistically exist, assuming the board is set up vertically. One, the game is set in space, and each block has a constant force acting towards the ground, or two, a force is acting against gravity such that there is no acceleration on the block. However, each round the blocks fall at a faster velocity, therefore we can determine that the force acting on the tetris pieces is changing.




PaVG #4: Portal

Today I want to talk about Portal's Long Fall Boots. In the game, these boots are a way around the concept of "fall damage". This is necessary due to the amount of falling done in the game, allowing you to reach terminal velocity when falling through two portals and launching yourself across a room. Realistically, the force of gravity would accelerating you to terminal velocity, and would crush your body. The Long Fall Boots completely negate this, allowing you to fall from impossible heights, decelerating you when you hit the ground leaving you completely safe. This is nearly impossible, but necessary for the game to maintain fun gameplay. Dying every time you fall wouldn't make for a fun game.



Welcome back! Today's just gonna be a simple discussion as to why the Mirror Shield from the Legend of Zelda games is inaccurate as to the way light works in real life.


This is the Mirror Shield as shown in the game The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. This shield has appeared in several other incarnations in the series, but most share one feature. They reflect light in order to solve puzzles. Now, although it has a highly polygonal model, you can clearly see that the "mirror" surface is convex. In the games, the player reflects a straight beam of light when standing under a light source. However, due to the convex nature of the mirror, the light should be dispersed. The only way a straight beam of light would be achieved would be with a flat surface. A convex mirror disperses light, whereas a concave one brings it to a point. Most of the shields in the series act the same way. They are convex, but direct light in a straight path.

That should conclude this post. Let me know your thoughts, and I'll talk to you next time!


PaVG #2: Minecraft

Minecraft is one of the most well-known video games of this age. While not as popular as it once was, the game still updates and provides new content to players. The developers provide frequent "Snapshot" updates, and while not official releases, allow players to test new features before they are fully launched.

Others have discussed before how much weight your player character can hold. However, the most recent snapshots of the game have added a new item called a Shulker Box. These items have 27 item slots, and allow a character to hold items within them and transport them in their inventory. Before, there was no way to transport items within containers. However, this effectively increases a player's inventory space. Previously, a player had 36 inventory slots, with a maximum of 64 items per slot for certain items. I wanted to find out, with this new item, how much force can one character hold?


I figured that gold would be one of the heaviest items in the game, so I decided to fill 36 Shulker Boxes with 27 stacks of Gold Blocks. Each block in Minecraft is 1 cubic meter, so each chest contains 64 cubic meters * 27 slots per Box * 36 Inventory slots. This equates to 62,208 cubic meters of gold. Assuming this is pure gold, and disregarding the mass of ourselves and the Shulker Boxes, we can determine how much mass you can carry. The density of gold is equal to 19.32 grams per cubic centimeter, so each Minecraft block has a density of 19,320 kilograms per cubic meter. Multiplying this by our maximum amount of Gold Blocks that we can carry, we get 62,208 cubic meters * 19,320 kilograms per cubic meter, we get 1,201,858,560 kilograms.

I determined experimentally the acceleration of a player by building a 10 meter tall tower and walking off. Recording time, I calculated a constant acceleration of 25.8 meters per second squared. Plugging this and our mass into Net Force = Mass * Acceleration, we can determine that 1,201,858,560 kg * 25.8 m/s2 = 31,007,950,848 Newtons of Force acting on your player character with no ill effects. A cursory Google search shows that only 3,300 Newtons has a 25% chance of breaking bone, and a Jet Engine can only produce around 44,000 Newtons.

This is the type of reality that could only be created in video games. I suspect that this is part of the reason people enjoy games so much. Video games don't have to be bound by natural laws, and thus have more creative freedom.

Thanks for reading! Feel free to comment with any suggestions for future posts, criticisms for this post, or feedback in general. See you next time!


Ever since I heard about this blogging assignment, this was the first idea to come to mind. I used to play the game Super Mario Sunshine frequently in my childhood. The game stars Mario in a tropical setting, using a water-fueled jetpack to hover over large gaps for a few seconds. Using this jetpack, he can hover over characters and spray water on them to clean them off. Sounds harmless enough, but I wanted to see just how powerful this water pack could be.

Many have assumed that Mario weighs somewhere around 165 pounds, so I will be using this for my calculations. Converting this to kilograms, we get 74.8427 kg. In order to calculate the force needed to hold Mario in place in the air, we need the force exerted by gravity on Mario. Using the equation Force = Mass * Acceleration, we can plug in the numbers 74.8427 kg for mass, and 9.81 m/s2 for acceleration due to gravity. This gives us a force of 734.206887 Newtons of force.

In order to compare this device to something realistic, we need to determine its pressure. One way of doing this would be to find its PSI, or Pound-force per Square Inch. Since we have an answer in newtons, we can convert this to PSI using a different value for pressure, Newtons per Square Meter. This requires us to find the area of the water stream. Assuming that the stream of water is perfectly circular, and that its diameter is equal to the diameter of the nozzle at its widest point, all we need is the area of the nozzle. To do this, I can measure based on an actual model taken directly from the game's files.


Doing this, I compared the backpack to Mario's official height of 5'1", and scaled it accordingly. Then, I measured the nozzle's diameter, and got a measurement of 30 centimeters. Using the equation Area = Pi * Radius2, substituting in .15 m for radius, we get an area of .070686 m2.

The pressure unit is Newtons per Meter Squared, so dividing 734.206887 N by .070686 m2 will give us a pressure we can convert to PSI. This gives us 10386.90269 N/m2. Converting this to PSI gives us...1.5 PSI. This seems pretty underwhelming. For comparison, some garden hoses are rated for maximum PSIs of 150. Did I do something wrong?

That's about all the time I have for now. Let me know what you think, and if there are any ways I could improve or simplify my calculations! For now, I'll leave you a video of a real-life water jetpack. See you next time!



About Me

Hi! So, I'm a Physics-C student, I'll just be going by OcktoByte. I like working with computers, and playing games. Eventually, I'd like to go to college for Computer Science.

I'm taking Physics because I enjoyed AP-Physics last year, and the other options didn't really appeal to me. I hope that I'll be able to learn and become more comfortable with more difficult physics, and I'm excited to see how what we learn can be applied.

So far, I feel most anxious about the difficulty of the class. I've heard it from others, and I knew going into it that the class would be tough, but I'm sure I'll get through it fine.

Thanks for reading, and I'll be back in the following weeks to take a look at some video game physics!

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