Feet. Some of them smell while others are misshapen to look more attractive to members of the opposite sex. But all of them are important. How else are you going to move faster than a cripple? Yet despite this significance to the human anatomy, a lot of video games never take the time to incorporate them into their gameplay.

It's a nagging feature; one I immediately look for when playing first-person shooters. Once the lengthy opening cutscene is over, I drop the camera and take a gander at my lower body.


I don't have a weird foot fetish (at least, I think I don't), but it only makes sense. What better way to immerse yourself in the world than by literally planting your feet on the ground? It helps give a personal touch to your character, show their taste in footwear, and most importantly, lets you know which way you're going when you look at the floor.

You may not have noticed this, but a lot of people spend their first-person experiences with their character's eyes pointed downward. This isn't because they're looking for spare change; it's due to the human need to get a lay of the land. Looking at the ground helps with spatial awareness and determines which paths are available to take - which is why most developers chop off their characters' lower bodies.


But by providing a little extra screen space, games like Skyrim and BioShock reduce their main protagonists to nothing more than a pair of floating hands holding a weapon. Even Overwatch, with its complex character animations, fails to add their lower bodies for you to see. These titles are immersive by nature yet fail to deliver on the simplest detail of all: making you feel like a complete inhabitant of their world.


The first time I ever saw my in-game feet while playing a first-person shooter was in Battlefield 3. I wasn't even looking at the floor. Rather, I was vaulting over an obstacle when I was surprised by the sudden emergence of my legs sweeping the font of the screen. It was a little touch that developer DICE added to this gigantic 64-player shooter that always made me feel the urgency of getting from point A to point B.

Why?

Because I actually felt like my character had legs instead of hovering around like a battle-worn Professor X. Far Cry and Crysis may not always succeed in their platforming segments, but at least they let you know where you stand before leaping of a skyscraper or jabbing a knife into some poor local's throat.


This is a case where gameplay and game design collide. It may be dependent on how much time a player has to look down below, but Far Cry already found a solution by making its protagonists' flail their arms while falling instead of staring at their emotionally static feet.


Multiplayer shooter aficionados will know that looking at the floor severely puts you at a disadvantage against an opponent aiming forward. While your crosshair is aimed at a blade of grass, his is much closer to your bullet-friendly body. So why not make first-person feet a requirement for the genre? Unless developers are planning to fill their games with highly detailed marble floors, adding characters' lower appendages to obstruct the ground might just help less experienced players with their aim.

So the next time you play a first-person shooter, do yourself a favor and take look at your feet. It may be the only chance you'll get before they become detached from the rest of your body.
About the author: Carlos Zotomayor

Zoto can see your underpants. Mmm... tasteful.


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