What kinds of environments or locales do you think are underused or underrepresented in games?


#1

Games often create spaces for us to play around in. For some games, it’s fun just to exist within the world that’s been presented to you. There’s so many worlds to explore!; yet somehow, so many games end up existing in variations of science fiction corridors or dreary dungeons and the like. I remember an old joke about a rule that every NES game had to have a sewer level. Of course, there are so many unique locales in games all the time, but it’s also pretty common to see a lot of wonderful kinds of places go unexplored when I step into a game’s world.

For me, I love snowy places, and I’d love to see more non-Western non-modern architecture. Mostly, I’ve always loved libraries. This partially comes from a recent interested in library science, but I also just think they’re really cool locations. I think they’re neat in games, and I wish I saw them more, especially for the unique fact that libraries use architecture and space to organize their own catalog.

What about you? What kind of worlds do you want to explore? Are there any kinds of buildings, environments, time periods, or really just any kind of spaces you’d like to play around in?


#2

Thinking about it, the first thing that came to my mind was more abstract: “the home.” In reality, we spend so much time in our homes and there are certainly games that deal with that (The Sims, most obviously), but “the home” as a place is not all that often represented in games.

It exists in many forms, like the Croft’s manor or workshop in the Tomb Raider games, the “home base” for so many shooters and strategy games (e.g. XCOM), even the Odyssey from Super Mario Odyssey, and these places do serve important functions in these games (for example as a refuge, as a safe place, to create a cozy feeling, which is why they are often customizable). However, the visits are always brief and they have this effect mostly because they are contrasted with the harsh world outside of their confines. While all of that is typical for our homes, these are not places that people “actually” live. The real life of these games lies outside of the walls of the base, the ship, the house. We often visit other people’s homes (very typical for horror games), but “our” home is more of a functional place, than one of belonging.

There are games that deal with this, of course, but I think they are not that common. I mentioned The Sims, of course, as the central theme here is building and living in a home. As simulations, however, I would argue that these games do not have a lot of interesting things to say about “the home.” They just perpetuate the common tropes and stereotypes of the Western world (mostly American suburbs, obviously) and while the homes may appear fully custom, there are clear limits to the tool set and especially (unless you use mods) in the choice of furniture, decor, etc. A house built in The Sims is clearly recognizable as such. I still think it’s great that these games deal with this issue, they could just say more interesting things about the home.

Other games that do more with the concept that come to my mind would be This War of Mine (as opposed to other strategy games, the home here is more than just the base of operations, which I think the game manages to pull off because of its theme and by making the home the center of action), Gone Home (here, the home tells a large part of the story, this is an excellent example of what I am looking for), or Animal Crossing (although I would extend the term to encompass the town itself and the people in it for this game, it’s more the “home town” than the single home that is being discussed).

I think games have a hard time dealing with “the home” as a concept because games are so rarely about relationships and our homes are the places of our personal relationships (in the Western world, at least, but I guess in most cultures). So games like Gone Home or Animal Crossing or Life is Strange (I think, haven’t played it yet) that deal with relationships have something to say about different conceptions of “home,” but most games struggle with this. There are more games that deal with this, of course, but I would love to see more. I think that also has to do with the kind of game I would like to see more often, but how could you separate that, anyway?


#3

I’ve always loved the silence of a quite rainy suburb. There’s something very peaceful about it. I think a smaller game like Gone Home could capture that feeling well.


#4

A slight tangent but not unrelated, I was thinking about Breath of the Wild and Bloodborne because of course I was, and how the former delivers on the “you see that mountain? You can go there” promise from Skyrim, but games that go for that kind of exploration don’t often apply that kind of game design to locations that, well, don’t have mountains. Bloodborne mostly does in a literal sense, from Yharnum you can see all the places you’ll eventually end up, the Grand Cathedral, the Astral Clocktower, the Choir Orphanage, even Cainhurst is visible off in the distance across an ocean.

But obviously Bloodborne isn’t BotW, it’s an immaculately designed series of overlapping and branching corridors. But other parts of the city are cut off by locked gates, broken roads and bridges, clever stuff, giving an entirely beleivable illusion of the grander city. And it is a GRAND city, get the right angle and you’ll see it stretches right down to the coastline, it covers a HUGE area. And I was thinking of how much I’d like a game with the “you see that X? You can go there” design philosophy set entirely inside a city as huge and entirely unique as Yharnum is, like a fully realised Blade Runner city that’s as huge as those goregoeus sweeping shots show it as. Obviously a big ask considering how most similar environments in games end up are barely navigable messes where every street looks identical and you have to constantly referance a map to understand where you are, but still, open world games in places other than big-ass countrysides and mountain ranges please.


#5

Ironically, the classic overused-first-game-trope for parser text adventures was the “My Shitty Apartment” game. While you could reasonably argue that a passel of My Shitty Apartment simulators doesn’t say much of interest about the home either, I think the trend does say something about the starting points of different types of games.


#6

Man you know I was kinda disappointed with Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture because, whilst a really damn impressive facsimile of a small English countryside town (and I say this as somebody raised in and around small English countryside towns), it was a little more interest in metaphysics and the end of the world than the kind of gossipy so-and-sos who live in these places. Well, I mean there was a fair amount of that stuff, but I’d love a game where all those people hadn’t be disappeared. Animal Crossing but even more passive-aggression between neighbours. Emergent systems involving postmen delivering things late, jam competitions, village fetes. Majora’s Mask but without the looming death moon messing up all your carefully-scheduled plans for the day. Sir, You Are Being Hunted but without the hunting.

And before you say it: no, not Harvest Moon/Stardew Valley! Those are too nice, not to mention different from the kind of rural setting I’m talking about. I want a game set in a British countryside village, or farming community, all about the complicated social bonds, betrayals and grudges, alongside the beautiful landscapes and good AI animals. Gimme Far Cry 5 but in Suffolk and with less white supremacists. Or like Pathologic without all the dying people. Gimme the game adaptation of that VICE article about the LSD dealer in the sixties who set up shop in this tiny Welsh town where nobody would find him but rumbled himself by having John Lennon and co around for bacchanalian parties, where you’re the fuzzy-faced copy infiltrating them but still making nice with the locals.

tl;dr There aren’t many games really set in the English countryside, I want scrumpy to be a collectable item in something


#7

As someone who’s family is from a various beach towns in both the east & west coast I always felt like that is an underutilized in games. Especially having talked to them about how those places used to be when they were growing up compared to now.

Also having grown up moving around the vast majority of where I’ve lived has never been in a games. I’ve never seen a game take place in the Amazon or Patagonia that isn’t about tomb raiding & think that would be a rather interesting setting for a game to take place…


#8

I know this isn’t what you are talking about, but Apple Jack is a strange platformer Indie Game I bought a long time ago mostly because all the levels were named after town in England, and if memory serves the first world is, well, Suffolk. It was nice being able to play a level named after my home town.

It would be awesome to play around in an English Countryside and small village/town. With people as well.


#9

I did not know that. Very interesting. I guess it makes sense as interactive fiction/text adventures can give insight into the protagonist’s feelings and thoughts, which other types of games struggle with.


#10

Anything like Morrowind.


#11

Stage plays. It still wrecks my mind that Telltale hasn’t done a version of The Tempest, Hamlet, West Side Story, or Wicked.


#12

Aw man that sounds really neat in concept but the screenshots look…pretty much like Super Mario World, and not specifically English countryside-y :frowning: I realise now that you actually could probably do something Far Cry 5-y in this setting, what with the prevalence of BNP/UKIP bigots in those kind of environments and films like Straw Dogs, or even a Wicker Man-style survival horror in that kind of setting.

Stage plays is another good one! I know the makers of Kentucky Route Zero have described their writing process to that of a play, and there was an episode of the Cool Ghosts podcast a little while back where they compared Sleep No More to the narrative of video games. Or, yeah, Singstar Hamilton I could get behind (not that people who love Hamilton need an excuse to sing half the dang musical at parties).


#13

A tropical island where the locals don’t try to murder you en masse; and is also not Super Mario Sunshine.


#14

When I first saw Far Cry 5 I found it eerily similar to the Yorkshire Countryside where I live. Obviously barring the crazy cult (to my knowledge).


#15

Is “Sir, You Are Being Hunted” at all in the ballpark?

I don’t know the reality well enough to know if it’s good, or if it’s just super stereotypical, so it reads “fine” to someone like me, who doesn’t know any better.


#16

I want a game in the deep sea. The DEEP sea. One of the reasons I want to play Subnautica at some point is because it actually includes pitch-black ocean exploration of this nature, but it’s probably the only game I can think of that includes it.


#17

I’d love to play an open-world game set in a recreation of Bucharest, mostly because I’ve always lived here (and I haven’t seen this kind of city portrayed in any game), but also because it’s such a weird city, architecturally speaking: tall, brutalist apartment buildings, run-down and new houses both mixed together in the outskirts, and also old, interwar buildings that are either abandoned or have been renovated/gentrified. It’s kind of a mess, and I really think it would be interesting to see what a good game could do with this kind of space.


#18

:wink: I do love that game tbh, I’d still like that space explored further though (it feels like Sir, You Are Being Hunted is a return of a particular kind of British humour which has been mostly absent since the height of the ZX Spectrum homebew era, which might be part of why this environment is under-used…?)


#19

But it’s decently close to accurate? Not just some wild stereotype?


#20

A home to live in,GTA 5 kinda solved that problem.