Ever been inspired to go places because of something you’ve seen in a movie? Perhaps not, but it does happen: take World War II period piece Australia, which was backed by a $1 million campaign by the Tourism board of Western Australia. Or on a smaller scale, consider the sustainability of organised tours of the sights of western Austria that tie in with vintage musical The Sound of Music.
It’s not just film either: you may be inspired by the works of Charles Dickens to visit London, and a love of Bob Marley may inspire a trip to the Caribbean. So, what about video games? Studies into the way they alter our behaviour are nothing if not controversial, but surely they have the same power of suggestion as any movie, piece of literature or song? Could we see concerted efforts in the future by tourists boards to capitalise on games that feature real world destinations? Here are some they could have already exploited:
As Seen In: Crysis 2, Deus Ex, Max Payne, Metal Gear Solid 2, Modern Warfare 3 and countless others
Probably the most famous city in the world, New York doesn’t seem like it would need much of a tourist boost. In fact, it mostly shows that video games are inspired by travel: the majority of the games in which it features manipulate our love of the city by destroying it in some way (virtually all the above involve someone damaging a major landmark, especially the statue of liberty).
Nevertheless, video games often take us to less-travelled, slightly mundane areas which take on added importance in the game. In the video above, someone has filmed a comparison of the not especially significant intersection of Bridge Street and State Street, the first street you walk down in Crysis 2. It’s not inconceivable that someone who saw this street in the game might go there to check it out in real-life. Though you probably wouldn’t be able to operate a profitable stall selling Crysis 2 keyrings and nanosuit nodding dogs.
As Seen In: Assassin’s Creed 2
Thanks to a thoroughly British school curriculum, I knew next to nothing about Renaissance-era Italy until playing Assassin’s Creed 2, which is both kind of incredible and incredibly sad. Whilst there’s not enough salt in the sea to pinch and take with this game’s account of history, the degree to which it’s faithful to the architecture of its major landmarks is quite extraordinary. Plus, considering that you spend most of your time scaling the walls and jumping from the towers of these places, you have a level of attachment to them that most games cannot begin to boast.
In the above video, the fascinating architecture of the real and virtual world of venice can be seen side by side. Assassin’s Creed 2 even contains its own tourist guide to these landmarks, telling you why they were as important then as they are amazing to look at now. Considering that Florence probably falls behind at least Rome and Venice as favourite tourist cities in Italy, featuring the city as the primary location of the games action must have suggested it as a holiday destination to at least a handful of players already.
As Seen In: Crysis, Far Cry, Monkey Island and others
If video games can inspire you to visit a place, surely they can work on a more subliminal level? Tropical island levels are common to many games (the Sonic series is seldom seen without them), and they’ve always been an opportunity to showcase the best that game technology has to offer. It’s simple enough: showcase unparalleled programming beauty with unparalleled natural beauty.
Will seeing the above video make you book all inclusive holidays to Barbados though? I think playing games with certain environments can make us more inclined to check them out for real, but the effect is likely only ever going to be subtle. If more games took specific nations as settings, perhaps the effect would be magnified. I’m sure the artists doing the research wouldn’t complain.
As Seen In: Gaming between 1985 and 2011.
Art inspires us to go and go and check things out ‘for real’, but sometimes, we go to places to see the art itself. Japan has always historically been a cultural draw, but its reputation as a Mecca for anime, manga, gaming and (and err, Mecha) has more recently been a certifiable draw for Western vistors.
The case on this one is open and shut quickly. Fact is, people go to Japan (and specific places like Akihabara Electric Town, shown above) because video games sent them there. Maybe you yourself wouldn’t be tempted on a video-game inspired holiday, but thousands of people every year certainly are.
Steph Wood is a huge blogger, gamer and writer for multiple clients, including Tropical Sky, a UK-based (you guessed it) Holiday Operator.
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