The Strange Beauty of Virtual Worlds

Prompt: Immerse

Video games are busy places. Gamers are constantly in battle, or saving worlds or destroying enemies or facing impossible challenges. These worlds aren’t meant for leisurely exploration, but are settings for action and adventure. Unless, that is, you are writer and gamer Andy Kelly (ultrabrilliant on YouTube), who has found a way to break free of the gameplay long enough to film some of the most popular environments in gaming. The haunting soundtracks in theses videos are taken directly from the game scores.

Dunwall, a dank, dangerous, plague-ridden city, which reminds me vaguely of post-Industrial Revolution London (though industry has taken a very dark turn) is the setting for the video game Dishonored. Clearly an adult game, there are warnings about blood and gore, intense violence, sexual themes, and strong language. Yet, Andy Kelly captures the innate beauty of Dunwall in all its stunning detail.

Portal 2 offers up a completely different world, with robotics as compelling as any vista in the city of Dunwall. Described as a first person puzzle-platform game, it eschews the bloodshed for a darkly humorous, clever, physics-inspired experience, as you navigate the sinister Aperture Laboratories.

Another favourite in the series is Columbia, the floating dystopian city in the violent first-person shooter BioShock Infinite. Set in 1912, the protagonist sets out on a rescue mission, only to become ensnarled in the bleak conflict between the brutal ruling class and the rebellion. BioShock Infinite is the third in the series, and it is an absolute visual feast, demonstrating what talent, imagination, and virtually unlimited resources can accomplish.

Andy Kelly has more than 75 Other Places videos available on YouTube, each featuring a different game and location, in celebration of the beauty of virtual worlds, the most recent (Hitman) uploaded only a month ago. I find them inspiring, to say the least.

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