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When I left Vault 101, and saw this tower rising from the horizon:

the distant tower

I thought to myself, “Really? Another deconstructed tower in the distance?”

Instead of immediately identifying it as the Washington Monument, which I’ve seen countless times in films, and on TV, I thought of this:

The Citadel

So, when I was heading into DC to find the Vault-Tec offices, this is what I thought I was heading towards, Vault-Tec sounding suitably like the sci-fi occupants for a sci-fi building. And when I finally came out of a side-street, and onto the Mall, and saw the Capitol at one end, and the charred and decrepit corpse of the Monument at the other, my jaw fell to the floor, even more heavily than it would have done if I’d realised what it was when I first saw it at a distance.

Is my imagination and memory tainted by the created worlds I’ve played in all these years?

It would seem so…

I know Geoff & I have talked about how Prince of Persia & GTA impinged upon our view of the world – play PoP too much, and you suddenly see the town around you as an obstacle course. Play GTA too much, and everything takes on a hyper-real quality, with violence always seemingly moments away.

But this is the first time I think I’ve mistaken a real-world artifact for one from a virtual world.

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6 thoughts on “

  1. I recall remarking to a friend of mine how strange it is that I probably know more digital/fake geography than do real world. And this is coming from a fellow who is pretty well traveled.

  2. Rockpapershotgun.com pumped out a set of posts last week about ‘games that made me’ – and that set off a stream of nostalgia, that made me realise I’d still know my way around the maps of games I played 20 years ago. Some games, like Captive, I could still walk around the first half dozen levels in my mind.

    Which makes me wonder just how many imaginary spaces I know that intimately. Dozens, certainly. Maybe hundreds.

  3. One of the preeminent examples for me was Action Quake. Occasionally, I see screen shots from newer FPS mods and now immediately what map it is and where to find the particular item that best exploits the level. This blows my mind since I played that game twelve years ago.

    Hell, I still have AQ dreams.

  4. I wonder if we’ll have always have stronger memories of digital/fake geography from those games that were made before photo-realism approached. If the work our imagination did to complete the images before us and sew them into a richer world made the memories bed down a little deeper.

  5. That is certainly true, but the issue more broadly has to do with immersion (I think). Photo realistic games can “cheat” and make a less compelling game by attempting to wow us with graphics.

  6. There’s probably a time issue as well – as graphics have become more spectacular, more time is spent making them that way, and less time is spent on the other stuff… which is probably why the best console games come at the end of the console’s life cycle, as all the procedural stuff has been iterated & accelerated and there’s proportionately more time spent on the gameplay.

    Oh, how I’d love to be a billionaire and make the game I’ve always wanted to play. But then there would be the guilt of not doing anything better with the money.

    Being a billionaire must be hard. No wonder they all buy yachts.

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