Metaverse cartographies: the power of mapping in videogames

Session

Hovedtalere

Abstract

This presentation delves into the spatial nature of videogames and their mapping culture, analyzing how maps have been used as narrative assets, as support for gameplay dynamics, and as canvases for all sorts of georeferenced information produced by developers and players. The argument will present cases from the 90s, early 2000s, and the present. Some concentrate on georeferencing significant quantities of assets and resources, often through collaborative action.

In e-sports, digital spaces are gaming fields, courts where positioning and timing are essential, so mapping movement and action is crucial to grasp the state of the game. These concepts have been applied in architectural teaching experiments in Colombia, Italy, and Spain, with results that exemplify how gaming culture can be harnessed to improve creative skills and employment potential in architecture and engineering students.

Målgruppe

The target group is particiants at the conference being interested in learning from digital gaming culture.

My background in digital gaming culture is from an architectural point of view, addressing issues and opportunities related to informational mapping and architectural drawing applied in educational experiments in Spanish, Colombian and Italian institutions.

Yderligere uddybning af abstract

The gaming industry is known for its success in providing an all-abundant stream of digital worlds, territories, landscapes, cities, and architectures adapted to the widest audiences. These places can range from the whimsical backgrounds in mobile games, to hand-made environments where every landmark has deep meaning, all the way to procedurally generated universes.

In gaming, as in real life, the connection between the landscape and its inhabitants is achieved by implementing action, activity, objectives, movement, and relationships that introduce hierarchy, challenge, narrative, dramatism, ideology, literacy, meaning. To grasp these digital worlds and make them affordable to players, game designers often resort to maps and cartography. Gaming maps come in all sorts of shapes. Sometimes they have a supportive role, appearing briefly between stages to show a change of location. Other titles use maps as mandatory assets to orientate players through lands that must be explored. In the last two decades, the open-world genre has filled the gaming culture with maps crowded with secondary missions, random encounters, resource density, enemy levels, among other data that grows in complexity.

In gaming, as in real life, information is king but must come georeferenced to be helpful. In Massive multiplayer online games, especially in the early years of the genre, players resorted to add-ons for building collaborative databases. Competitive strategy games use dynamic minimaps memorized by players who learn where to seek their rivals. In e-sports, players, coaches, casters, and spectators arm themselves with statistics on average map usage, area control trends, possible conflict points, ambush spots, etc. These mapping practices do not only produce an incredible amount of information worth of study, but it also creates a common background among players who, unknowingly, are being trained in the basic concepts of professional geomapping.

In gaming, as in real life, to develop new knowledge on digital landscapes and buildings, they must be decomposed, drawn, and analyzed to identify their core elements. Creating an architectural render of a virtual space is not much different from drawing a real one. To do so, researchers and students visit the study place digitally, take measures and photographs, and then transform this information into detailed maps, axonometric views, sections, plans, and diagrams. Since 2016, this methodology has been employed in architectural education experiments involving students and institutions in Colombia, Italy, and Spain, showing how the gaming industry offers additional employment possibilities to newly graduated architects and engineers. Using games in professional training provides a digital cultural background that equips our students with self-training soft skills, modeling tools, and informational mapping protocols to prepare them for future challenges.

Metaverse cartographies: the power of mapping in videogames
Politecnico di Torino, Universidad de Granada