Monday, 10 October 2016

Video games and architecture: cities in virtual worlds

Building upon our digital collections, the Museum of London recently decided to start collecting video games as an alternative way to tell the story of London. We have acquired 18 video games that represent or misrepresent the capital in their narrative or that were developed by Londoners. This is a new collection that spans from 1982-2000 and highlights the depiction of the city as a place and as a concept.

London is a constantly moving wave of urban transformation and social change. The city expands, neighbourhoods change, landmarks pop up, and people blend in and weave the city. The greatest preserved feature of London is its own urban fabric. It’s not about the Big Ben and its landmarks; it’s about capturing the essence of its fluidity, diversity and expansion. A place without boundaries but with people, emotions and memories. London is an ever-changing city; the city’s skyline is constantly moving, societies are shifting, reflecting its adaptability to social change. The city has been redeveloped through history from the Great Fire to the London Blitz and beyond, creating a palimpsest of stories and memories.
Back in 1960, urban studies author Kevin Lynch recognised that, “moving elements in a city and in particular the people and their activities, are as important as the stationary physical parts”. Three-dimensional game cities are nor static environments or stationary views. They are experienced through movement, action, play and immersion.
Is the concept of space in video games represented through a three-dimensional simulation and the concept of the city experienced through our understanding of the space combined with our own experiences and shared cultural references? Where the city becomes a place of more profound adventure, fantasy and a crossing point of experiences and imagination?

In this talk, Director of the Interactive Architecture Lab (Bartlett School of Architecture), Ruairi Glynn, will be joined by Dr Diane Carr (UCL), Nic Clear (Greenwich University), Usman Haque (Umbrellium) and Bartlett School of Architecture graduate Ed Mascarenhas. This panel of experts will explore how video games can be used to investigate and enhance our concept of city and space.

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