What are gibs? A brief history.
In most first-person shooter games, if you attack with great force, enemies will fall into pieces. These are called gibs, and have been used in computer games for a "realistic" death effect for many years. Due to technological constraints, the effect was in fact more complex – once the enemy got killed by the player, its "lifelike" model disappeared, and was immediately substituted by a bunch of fragments that fell to the ground. These fragments weren't part of the original enemy, but separate gib models conceived specifically to express mutilation. Glossed over with special effects, this process did approximate exploding a body, but was in fact just a replacement – in video games, there is no continuity between life and death.
The above became less true with increased adoption of simulated ragdoll physics, forerun by Trespasser in 1997. There, ragdoll physics prompted the developer to abandon modelling gibs, in favour of a mechanic wherein a killed dinosaur collapsed to the ground quite naturally. Such a depiction of death was less brutal, similarly realistic, and can be said to resemble how many parents explain death to children – "the dinosaurs are sleeping". The gibs era can be considered over with the introduction of a synthesis, [, the game which allowed players to chop off any part of an enemy's body, thus reestablishing the link between life and death we know from physical existence.
Where to start
If you know that a game features gibs, here are three ways for you to submit data to Gibs Wiki.
Option 1: If you don't have experience with editing wikis (wikimedia syntax), please submit a memo at Tips on gibs and let other members take it from there.
Option 2: if you do have basic wikimedia skills, but you don't have the means to locate or excavate the models from code, please refer to the First-Person Shooter Checklist and modify the relevant entry with a 'YES' in its last column.
Option 3: If you're comfortable with using wikimedia syntax, have located the models and figured out how to convert them to a universal format like 3ds, feel free to submit them in the centerpiece of Gibs Wiki, the 3D Gibs in 3D games database.
For general comments and discussion, please visit the giblets subreddit.
Why create a wiki about gibs?
Gibs are worth our attention because they were the first video game objects to feature unscripted interaction – rudimentary physics allowed players to place gibs into any composition or arrangement by kicking or shooting them. Thus we can say that, for millions of people, gibs were the first experience of playing around with virtual 3D objects – created and intended to be seen from all sides and perspectives – they were not part of a pre-designed stage set, but the very first prop.
Despite having no use with regards to the narrative, story or mission objectives, developers allotted significant resources into coding the necessary (and oftentimes revolutionary) mechanics – specifically with these purposeless acts in mind. Despite this, as well as enjoying a long tradition in first-person shooters, they were never mentioned as a selling point, nor gameplay feature.
To submit your experiences with gibs, and how you made use of them, go to Testimonials.
How you can help
Established in 2016, this wiki is happily open to all contributors. The aim of this wiki is to create a comprehensive database of all gibs. However obscure, earlier and more primitive models will be treated by admin with priority.
The recommended research method is an archeological one. Instead of archeogaming, which means playing games as an archeological pursuit, I propose archeomodding, which concentrates on scavenging for models directly within game archives, using modding tools to navigate the plethora of obscure file formats and fan-created software – without in-game insight into what we're dealing with. Attempts to catalogue items will remain quite close to real excavations, in which we can only deal with decayed material remnants of a culture without ever having access to its reality. This method also welcomes mistakes like believing that ancient Greek sculptures were white, instead of vividly painted as we know now, leading to a misconstrued but nonetheless fortuitous phenomena like the style of neoclassicism. Read About the Gibs Wiki Method for full guidelines.