midgarfinalfantasyvii.png

Midgar on the map: Video game atlas explores ‘Virtual Cities’ in detail

Contributed by
May 23, 2018

If you’ve longed for a more close-up and tangible way to peruse the details of Midgar’s steamy streets in Final Fantasy VII, or scope out the hidden secrets of The Elder Scrolls Imperial City, then this new crowdfunded cartography project may literally put your dreams on the map.

Writer Konstantinos Dimopoulos and visual artist Maria Kallikaki are teaming up to deliver a hardback, coffee-table-worthy atlas to document gaming’s most iconic and appealing urban spaces, seeking support for their Virtual Cities book project through publishing crowdfunding site Unbound.

Pitched as a book “meant for lovers of cartography and imaginary worlds, artists, game designers, world builders, and, above all, everyone who plays and cares for video games,” Virtual Cities is based on the authors’ belief that game spaces offer “an unprecedented canvas for experimenting with the urban environment, and an utterly unique medium for experiencing cities both imagined and real in truly immersive ways.”

The project promises to employ “a combination of traditional and unorthodox cartographic methods” to map each of the book’s locations, in the process making sense of the sometimes out-of-scale maps bundled into the games themselves. Each city also will be lavished with “beautiful, subtly coloured ink drawings, and in-depth texts covering its history, design lessons, atmosphere, landmarks, and geography,” the startup promises.

While the authors state they haven’t finalized the full list of cities that will make it into the finished version, the handful we do know about sounds ambitious: Rapture from BioShock, Dunwall from Dishonored, Anor Londo from Dark Souls, and, yes, Midgar from Final Fantasy VII. For a closer look at how things will appear in the finished product, take a gander at the preview entry for City 17, the mysteriously situated Eastern European dystopia where much of Half-Life 2 unfolds. It’s a thorough exploration, to say the least.

For the four backers who pledge $700 to make Virtual Cities a reality, the opportunity opens up to suggest a game location for inclusion in the final book. So if you’ve ever wished you could just reach out and pick up your own richly detailed, annotated map of the Sanctuary Fortress in Metroid Prime 2: Echoes, or the Capital Wasteland of Fallout 3, this may be your golden ticket.

Which of your favorite video game cities deserve the full-blown cartographic treatment? Leave us your ideas in the comments, then head on over to Virtual Citiesfunding page to check out the full spread.