Architecture and game design

Reading this interview of Daniel Dociu on BLDGBLOG, I was intrigued by a comment from Greg Smith about the relationship between gaming and architecture:

"Seeing real discourse about gaming in an architectural context is very exciting for me. Architecture tends to have stock discussions about gaming: the eternal resuscitation of the Situationist International and the expected conversations about 3D modeling. The winfall in thinking about gaming is much bigger when you consider the medium without being crippled by these limitations. While I do appreciate the fine art of "level design" I think the real prize in comparing gaming and architectural design is the exploration of simulation, interface and play (the latter of which is to gaming as programme is to architecture). (...) what interests me the most is how the medium ties into the history of architectural representation. Given the intimate relationship between architecture and "viewing apparatuses" (from the panorama through orthogonal projection on the drawing board) gaming can be read as the latest in a procession of technologies and techniques for constructing images and ideas"

In an insightful blogpost, Greg Smith also discusses this topic. He mentions two interesting projects relevant for that matters:

  1. Echochrome: a puzzle game created by Sony's JAPAN Studio n which the player must direct a mannequin through a series of Oscar Reutersvärd's impossible constructions. You have to control a character figure traversing a rotatable world where physics and reality depend on perspective (See for example this video).
  2. The Orange Box expansion pack for Half-Life 2, as Smith points out " the player finds themselves immersed in the familiar architectural trappings of the stock first person shooter space. The key difference with this game from your run of the mill FPS is the tools at your disposal. Portal revolves around the use of the "aperture science handheld portal device", a tool that allows you to shoot a pair of wormholes into surfaces and then pass through them allowing you to cut through game space in a non-linear manner."

(A example of Echochrome)

Why do I blog this? I find this topic interesting and touched it last year during my year at the Media and Design Lab. It's good to think in both directions: what urbanism/architecture can bring to game design and how game design can influence urbanism/architecture. And it's not only about aesthetic concerns. The "Space Time Play book is a good resource about this topic.

Also, what does this mean in reality? are there signals of echochrome-like structures in the physical space that would allow parkour-like interactons? See for example the following example that I've already mentioned in this blog: 45