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Hello everyone! I’m surprised it’s only been a few weeks since my last blog. It’s felt like it has been longer than that. Especially after the 31/31, the decrease in the amount of blogging has really been a bit jarring personally. However, I’m still trying to hang around here and contribute as best as I can. Today’s blog is likely the final entry in my Memories Series, and is one that I just remembered a few days ago. It’s one of my favorite gaming memories, so I hope you all enjoy the blog.
When I was younger, one of my favorite things to do was pretend that I was a cartographer. I have no idea where the fascination started; all I know is that I had a fascination with cartography. I would take miniature trains and lay them out in a pattern like they were parts of an imaginary city, and I would then draw out a map of the city. Any time I could get my hands on a map, I would spend hours looking at the map and using my imagination to fill in the blanks in my knowledge about certain areas. Worlds of wonder would pop up just off of the one little map.
Once I got a little bit older, I started playing videogames. Not surprisingly though, I combined my loves of gaming and of cartography. In every series I played, I always tried to go beyond the game so to speak, and to imagine the entire world that the character lived in. The population, the historical era, the various quirks of a region, all of these were things that I would spend hours writing, thinking and drawing about.
Take for example a series like Pokémon. My very first game in the series was Pokémon Ruby for the Game Boy Advance. I loved the game, and one of my favorite parts of it was the region it took place in, Hoenn. The Hoenn region was amazing, and it was really fun to imagine the different areas of it, and imagine if it was real. When I would finish playing the game, I would draw a map of the region, and give a population to each of the cities, and I would divide each part of the region into states and name a capitol in each region. For example, Roxboro City would be the seat of the Northwestern State of Hoenn, and had a population of 600,000 people. Never mind the fact that the city probably had a grand total of 100 people in it in the game, I made the population relative to other cities. I assumed that a big city like Saffron City in Kanto or Jubilife City in Sinnoh had around one million people, so I scaled the other populations around that. Because 100 people in a city was just too small to have apartments in my opinion. The Rusturf tunnel, just outside of Rustboro city, was an area that I imagined to have many small hill-side houses, and a few camping areas and parks. In the game however, the area just featured a character who lost their glasses. A few years ago, a very cool Pokemon site called Serebii.net released a feature called "Pokearth." The feature is really amazing, and it was an online realization of my efforts with gaming and cartography. I encourage everyone to go check it out if they have time. (Maps like these were my absolute favorite to read and find.)
Pokémon wasn't the only franchise where I did this. In the Madden series, I would make maps of the teams practice facilities based on what I saw in the mini-camp mini-games. I would draw out separate practice fields for the practice squad, and would scale my facilities so that the larger ones would be for the better part of the team. No matter the game, I would draw these maps out so that the world became more immersive for me, and it would feel not only more complete, but more personal as well. By the time I had put over 200 hours into the Madden series, I had maps of each and every team, and each map featured not only the team practice field, but the walkways to and from the field to the facilities, the facilities themselves, the neighborhood around the facility, and their main stadium.
(I would take an image like this and extrapolate out from there) Apparently old habits die hard, since I still continue with the habit in games like Team Fortress 2 and League of Legends. In Team Fortress 2, when you are about to enter a map, the loading screen shows a battlefield that artistically provides the purpose of visually representing where you are fighting. It’s also a way to tie-into the story of the game, which involves a long-running family feud. After playing the game for a little bit, drawing the different battlefields, and imagining how they connected together was something that I enjoyed doing. Even though a lot of the maps were abandoned warehouses, I felt that each one told a story, and that there was a bigger meaning for each one. The act of drawing out these maps and constructing new ideas was a way of expressing and personalizing the game for me, and it felt similar to what fan-fiction writers feel that they experience.
(Good ol' 2Fort) Like I mentioned earlier, I have also been making gaming cartography for the game League of Legends, which is a game that I’ve been playing a lot of recently. The game features a pretty fun, yet silly lore behind it, and I’ve been drawing maps of the various battlefields and civilizations in order to see how they connect. The game features different characters that have different storylines behind them, and drawing various maps has made me feel immersed in the story.
(My maps don't look nearly this good.) The interesting thing is just how my two loves of gaming and cartography have evolved. In addition to my blog here at Game Informer, I’m beginning to apply to colleges, and hopefully I’ll get a job as a Civil Engineer or City Planner. My dream-job is to become a civil engineer in developing countries, and help those countries with infrastructure, and in providing a way for those citizens to have a better way of living. In summary, gaming cartography might be seen as a weird activity in the eyes of some, but it’s helped me become interested in the stories of many games, and it’s one of my favorite memories due to how it’s come full-circle in my life so far.
That’s all for today’s blog. Do you have any odd gaming memories in your life? Have you done any activities outside of a game that adds to the experience of it? As always, feel free to leave a comment and I’ll respond as soon as I can. Thanks for reading!