31/31 Day 2: It's A Wonderful World - Saturday Morning Replay Blog - www.GameInformer.com
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31/31 Day 2: It's A Wonderful World

       Hello everyone, and welcome to day 2 of my 31 for 31! Today’s blog is going to talk about location. Location, location, location. It’s not just a key phrase in real estate, but it’s also a key part of any good story-telling medium. Location is often the first thing that a gamer sees in a game, and it can help shape characters, or it can hurt characters. It can be interacted with, or completely inanimate. Location is often times one of the most critical, yet overlooked aspects of gaming. Everyone remembers some of the iconic locations in video gaming. The first time they stepped into Pallet Town to begin their adventure as Pokémon Master, the sad dystopia of Hyrule when the moon is coming down, the haunting underwater world of rapture, or the bright-yet-spooky floating city of Columbia. Yet, despite all of these amazing out-of-world creations, the goal of this blog is to take a look at some of the various locations and times on Earth that I hope would be covered more. The hope is that if a game is included that takes place on Earth, developers would be pushed to make a game that has a strong cultural or emotional pull as well, especially since there are so many memories or pre-conceived notions attached to these various locales. I love visiting the various Pokémon regions, but I would probably have the same amount of nostalgia by seeing a game take place in the state I’m from. A game that has a well done location can really change the way a person looks at a place, and in my opinion is one of the many reasons why videogame is an art form. Just like a convincing T.V. show setting, or even a photograph, a good location can do wonders. So, with that being said, here are 10 locations (and time period’s as well!) that I wish were included in an upcoming game.
               
                                        Location 1: U.S.A.  1870’s: 
       I know that the 1870’s was really only notable in people’s minds for two things: Reconstruction, and western expansion. However, I think that one aspect that gets overlooked during the era is the very beginnings of a phase called “American Exceptionalism”. The idea behind the phrase was coined during the 1896 World’s Fair in Chicago, which was an amazing event at the time. It was also a time when many people thought that the U.S. was the next world’s superpower, with comparisons running the gambit from ancient Egypt, to the Roman Empire. During this time period, people were excited for what was next for the country, and cities were being built at a rapid pace. Not only that, but inventions were being made left and right. I think that a game could take place here and be centered on a character that is a test rat of sorts for the various products that were coming out at the time. The inspiration for this comes from  an article that I read once that talked about how there was a product during that time that was considered to be a “cure-all”. That product ended up being labeled as heroin. Civilization at that time seemed to have no idea of where to go next, just the knowledge that changes where indeed happening. Another inspiration for this is the brilliant web-comic XKCD, where they posted a comic about “the death of modern communication.” This blog featured newspaper clippings from the 1870’s talking about how humans never have any face-to-face conversations anymore. Long story short, I really feel that the sheer uncertainty and newness that society felt at the time would really make for a convincing story.
               
                             
Location 2: Artic Circle, North America, 1960’s:
       The inspiration for this comes from a book I read when I was in middle school. The book talked about the very beginning effects of climate change on the local community, and how the invention of microwave dinners rapidly increased obesity rates among the local people. I think that this setting of change and difference could really make a great narrative-driven story.
                             
                              Location 3: Tierra del Fuego/Patagonia, any time:
       The inspiration for this comes from the show “The Challenge” on MTV. Yes, it’s a horrible show in any critical lens, but one cool aspect of it is the fact that they always have the players compete in a really cool ultra-marathon that takes place somewhere unique in the world. One season, the location was Tierra del Fuego. I was absolutely taken away by just how amazing the scenery was there, with its thick forests, treacherous cliffs, and frozen lakes all cohabitating as one. For anyone who doesn’t know, Tierra del Fuego is a region in the southern part of the South American continent. The region is sparsely inhabited, and is a renowned area for outdoor enthusiasts with its extreme temperatures, and breathtaking views. It’s also a region that I think would be perfect for any game that wants an amazing looking outdoors setting.
               
                                      
Location 4: Easter Island, any time:
       The inspiration for this location comes from a thought I had one day. “How did humans end up inhabiting Easter Island and other Pacific islands, many of which are surrounded by nothing but water for thousands of miles?” Well, I did a little research, and found out that many of those islands were the last parts of this Earth to be inhabited, and it occurred mainly through traveling from one small island to the next, starting from Indonesia, and eventually migrating more and more westward. Now I bring this up because I’ve always had a peculiar fascination with obscure geographical features of Earth, which is one of the main inspirations behind this blog. Easter Island is an island that is in the southeastern portion of the Pacific Ocean, and is famous for its giant statues that are scattered around the island. The statues are said to be hundreds of years old, if not older, and would be a perfect setting or plot point in a mystery game. Think Uncharted taking place in Easter Island. I think that it would be an awesome place for a game to take place.
               
                               
Location 5: Equatorial Guinea, Present Day:
       Equatorial Guinea is a small island country off of the coast of Africa. The country is small in size and population, although has recently come across a lot of wealth in the terms of oil. Of course, as with any upstart country, there still exists a lot of poverty and inequality of wealth. With that being said, I believe that a game taking place in Equatorial Guinea that talks about the sudden rise to political and economic relevance would be really interesting narrative-wise.
                   
                   
Location 6: Morocco/Algeria, Independence Revolutions:
       Yes, one of the easiest and more clichéd settings in video games that take place on Earth are independence revolutions. However, there is a good reason for that. The uncertainty and energy of a revolution help give a story life. Just think, you have your main story plot points settled by following historical accounts of the revolution, and the uncertainty of the country at that point can really help twist and turn the narrative in any way that a developer might want.
                                  
                                 
Location 7: Scandinavia, 30 Years War:
      Taking a departure from the suspense of a mystery/action/adventure game, Scandinavia during the 30 Years War would be a fascinating historical area in a game like the Civilization or Total War series. I got the inspiration from this location from a history paper I had to write on the topic. Here’s Wikipedia’s take on the event:
               
The Thirty Years' War (1618–1648) was a series of wars principally fought in Central Europe, involving most of the countries of Europe. It was one of the longest and most destructive conflicts in European history, and one of the longest continuous wars in modern history.

                The origins of the conflict and goals of the participants were complex and no single cause can accurately be described as the main reason for the fighting. Initially, it was fought largely as a religious war between Protestants and Catholics in the Holy Roman Empire, although disputes over internal politics and the balance of power within the Empire played a significant part. Gradually, it developed into a more general conflict involving most of the great powers of the time. In this general phase the war became less specifically religious and more a continuation of the Bourbon–Habsburg rivalry for European political pre-eminence, leading in turn to further warfare between France and the Habsburg powers.
      Sounds pretty cool right? A more than 30 years conflict raging all across the entire continent of Europe that featured some of the most prominent civilizations of the era. These civilizations included none other than the Scandinavian ones of Norway, Finland, and most important to the war; Sweden. Sweden’s impact in the war was tremendous, especially towards the latter years of the war, when it exerted its influence to help the Protestant side turn the tide of the war. This was an especially impressive feat given the fact that Sweden was not well-renowned for their fighting prowess at the time.
               
                                               
Location 8: Russia: 1990’s
      The inspiration for this comes from the game; Metal Gear 3, which takes place in Soviet Russia. A few months ago, my best friend and I were doing a playthrough of the game, and kept commenting on how many Russian stereotypes there are in the general media. After discussing this on and off throughout the playthrough, we noticed similar parallels to how many Arab stereotypes there are in the media as well. Of course, being an Arab myself, I very rarely enjoy seeing the stereotypes occur, especially when I see it lead to racism towards myself and friends and family. Recognizing this, I started to really feel for the Russian community, and how it must be annoying hearing constant “In Soviet Russia…” type jokes all of the time. I recalled a few years back when I hosted an exchange student from Tajikistan (a former USSR colony), and how she hated all of the Russian stereotypes she encountered not only here in the states, but even back in her homeland as well. I guess where I’m going with all of this is that I believe that a game can be really well done during the fall of the Soviet Republic that not only tells an interesting story of a changing cultural and political environment, but a story that can dispel the many stereotypes out there as well.  
               
                
Location 9: India/Pakistan/Bangladesh: Independence Revolutions:
      The inspiration for this location comes from my local mosque. As a Muslim, I visit the mosque about once every Sunday in a similar fashion to a Sunday church service. I’ve gone to this mosque for about the past 10 years, and have made a lot of friends within the community. One of my best friends there is of Pakistani origin, and is a huge gamer. Oftentimes, we will sit at the lunch table there and talk about either videogames, or stories of our family ancestry. The stories that my friend tell are fascinating, and involve a time when Pakistan was known as a part of India during Pakistan’s movement towards independence. Along with a Russia, I believe that a well-written game that takes place in Pakistan (That doesn’t involve terrorists. I know, crazy right?) would be a great game, and could have a big social impact in defeating negative stereotypes.
                         
                                            
Location 10: Greenland: 2100
      The inspiration for this location stems from a National Geographic article I read that talks about the decreasing ice shelf and the changing climate that the inhabitants of Nuuk (the capital of Greenland) are facing. I think that a futuristic game that features, or exaggerates these effects would resonate with a pre or mid-apocalyptic game that many gamers seem to appreciate. Only this would be one that wouldn’t feature zombies.
                
       
Well, that’s all for today everyone! What locations of Earth would you like to see featured in a videogame, and how? As always, please feel free to comment below, and I will respond as soon as I can! Thanks for reading! (Also, all images, and the Wikipedia quote are not mine, please give credit to the original creators, thanks.)

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