Digital Worlds: Traveling Through Video Games

Digital Worlds: Traveling Through Video Games

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This is a guest post by my partner, Ken Grünberg: While often dismissed as simple backdrops, the modern open-world “sandbox” in a video game also encourages exploration and discovery—the very same qualities you rely on while traveling. These virtual worlds are created and often modeled after real-life locations in meticulous detail by the developers of the game, in the hopes of immersing the player in a believable (and sometimes historical) environment. Non-player characters speak different languages, go to work or perhaps ask you for help, all to the beat of a virtual day/night cycle. You are central to the buzz around you, and are free to interact with the world and characters as you see fit.

Below are just a few examples of games to explore as a virtual tourist:

Participate in the Venice Carneval during the Renaissance

Participate in the Venice Carneval during the Renaissance

Meet some 'friendly' strangers in the Wild West

Meet some 'friendly' strangers in the Wild West

See that bridge? Everything in the distance you can (and should) visit

See that bridge? Everything in the distance you can (and should) visit

Scale the ruins of the Colosseum

Scale the ruins of the Colosseum

Take in the sights and sounds of 18th century Havana

Take in the sights and sounds of 18th century Havana

See Tulum as it was, before it was discovered by hipsters

See Tulum as it was, before it was discovered by hipsters

Late night snacks in Hong Kong—you can almost taste them

Late night snacks in Hong Kong—you can almost taste them

Hop from ancient roof to roof—Byzantine, to Roman to Islamic—in Damascus

Hop from ancient roof to roof—Byzantine, to Roman to Islamic—in Damascus

Take the scenic route through the viaduct in downtown L.A.

Take the scenic route through the viaduct in downtown L.A.

In an unusual future series, Una and I hope to explore some of the places above with a traveler mindset. I've played open-world games on a regular basis since I was a teenager enjoying their free-form, immersive nature. Una is just discovering the potential of gaming as a social tool (rather than a nerdy pastime), so we'll be coming at it from different perspectives. Perhaps it's the long winter nights that spawn these kooky ideas of alternative (and affordable) travel. In any case we're eager to see where the road leads...

Girl Bike Gangs of Morocco

Girl Bike Gangs of Morocco

"Winter makes a bridge between one year and another"

"Winter makes a bridge between one year and another"