Creating an authentic game is more about trying to "capture the flavor" of an experience, rather than re-create it, Red Storm senior narrative designer Jay Posey said during the "Tastes Like Chicken: Authenticity in a Totally Fake World" panel at GDC.
Red Storm is best known for its work on the Ghost Recon series and has strived to create authentic experiences in game. According to Posey, simply "knowing how it ‘really' is doesn't guarantee" that a game will deliver the experience its audience is looking for. "Authentic" games are not necessarily "real" games. In Posey's example, a real Ghost Recon-type game would include waiting to photograph a target in a marsh for 72 hours, taking a picture, waiting 24 hours and going home to find out that the truck holds no relevance.
In an authentic video game, however, a player would crawl through a marsh for 20 seconds to take a picture of a truck just before it explodes. After engaging in an exciting fire fight and daring escape, the player would learn during a dramatic cutscene that the truck is, in fact, the key to everything.
The trick, Posey said, is to get the facts and learn how to bend them.
"We're adding on, not trying to correct," Posey said.
Learning the subject matter can be obtained through first person accounts and experts, the Hollywood (or entertainment) version and what fans believe is true, Posey said. Even graphics novels or books from authors considered to be authoritative in their genre can be a great source.
"Know your subject, and add on to the story people are already telling themselves," Posey said.