You should start by learning how to do basic transformations using translation, rotation and scaling. This is basic stuff that every programmer should understand in the gaming world. Then, you'll be able to make simple animations like what I think you are referring to as "fake" (but I don't agree, an animation is just an animated object, whatever method is used to do it).
Later, if you want to do skeletal animations like those in console games, you should be able to do it. These animations are using the same kind of transforms (translation, rotation, scaling) but applied on bones instead of directly on the meshes. Then, the vertex positions of the meshes are computed in function of the bone transforms. So, if you want to do this kind of animations, you have to first learn how to do basic animations anyway.