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Collection of video game landscape articles
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Among the many incredible places that video games take us, it is some of the virtual landscapes, gardens, and natural environments that are the best. From rigorously designed palace gardens, to expansive natural lands, and from alien planets with weird and wonderful plants, to terrains imbued with meaning and symbolism, an expansive range of landscapes can be explored, traversed, and enjoyed in games.
Much like the 17th and 18th-century tradition of undertaking a european grand tour to visit cultural landmarks, gardens, and cities, in Genius Loci writer and award-winning landscape designer Rob Dwiar, will guide readers on a journey across video game histories, geographies, and stories, offering detailed appreciation and analysis along the way. Visiting games such as the Dishonored series, Dragon Age Inquisition, the Elder Scrolls and Assassin’s Creed, this grand tour will be an evocative journey for fans of video games and landscapes alike.
Supported by high-quality, in-game screenshots taken by the author to ensure every detail is captured, Rob will shed light on the background, history, typology, horticulture and botany, and landscape and garden design features, and reveal what real-world traits and approaches can be found in each place to give a thorough journey across a multitude of games and places.
The landscapes, gardens, and horticulture found within video games have come on such leaps and bounds in the past few decades, that there is much to talk about, look at, and get lost in. Real-life garden design features and approaches now feature in game design; accurate portrayal, use, and combination of plants finish landscapes to a beautiful degree of detail, environment design has deeper levels of meaning and narrative importance than ever, and even the most prominent and high-profile games can see players engage in horticulture. Genius Loci will see all of this, and more, explored through dozens of places and games - some which feature more than one beautiful landscape or garden.
The working contents of the book is below, offering the current gardens, landscapes, and natural environments and spaces that Geniu Loci will examine, analyse and appreciate:
The Boyle Mansion and The Brigmore Manor (Dishonored), The Grand Forest Villa, Emprise Du Lion and Emerald Graves (Dragon Age Inquisition), Garden of New Eden (BioShock Infinite), The Grand Duke's Palace and Stilton's Manor (Dishonored 2), The Citadel (Mass Effect), The Arboretum of Talos I (Prey), The Gardens of Arcadia (BioShock), Red Creek Valley (The Vanishing of Ethan Carter), Shoshone National Forest (Firewatch), The vineyards and groves of Toussaint and the wild Isles of Skellige (The Witcher 3), The forgotten dark age landscapes (Assassin's Creed Valhalla), The Village of Yaughton (Everybody's Gone to the Rapture), The forests of Skyrim, The meeting of Roman and Egyptian gardens (Assassin's Creed Origins), Ancient Greek lands (Assassin's Creed Odyssey), The recovering landscape (Horizon Zero Dawn), The city squares of Karnaca (Dishonored: Death of the Outsider), The post-apocalyptic beauty of The Last of Us, Recreating the renaissance (Assassin's Creed 2 and Brotherhood), The lifeless landscape of Fallout 4, True Wilderness in Death Stranding, Kinship with big country in Red Dead Redemption 2, Natural navigation in Ghost of Tsushima, Heavenly & Hellish landscapes and the Landscape reveals of Oblivion and Skyrim.
Genius Loci (phrase); Popularised by 18th century poet Alexander Pope, used to describe the sense of place or distinctive character of a landscape. Evolved from the original Roman meaning which referred to the 'actual' spirit or god that presided over a place.
About the book
- A full colour, high-quality hardback with printed endpapers.
- Approximately 200 pages.
- 210 by 286mm format with head and tail bands.
- More than 30 distinct case studies.
- Features more than 100 in-game screenshots to illustrate every detail.
- Contains more than 40,000 words and great pledge levels!
- It is our intention for Rob to sign the books, but if Covid restrictions are still place then there will be a signed bookplate instead
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Rob Dwiar is a video games writer, garden writer, landscape architect, and Royal Horticultural Society Gold Medal-winning garden designer. His writing specialises in the virtual gardens and landscapes in video games, and his experience and expertise gives him a unique perspective on the worlds and environments millions of gamers immerse themselves in every day.
Following a Bachelors in Landscape & Garden Design, and a Postgraduate Diploma in Landscape Architecture, Rob developed a deep appreciation for the landscapes, gardens and horticulture found in video games, alongside that in the real world. He has acquired specialist knowledge and expertise from working at the magazine of the RHS, gained years’ of experience in a multidisciplinary landscape practice - where he designed everything from private gardens and landscapes, to public squares and golf courses - and won a gold medal in a national RHS garden design competition. Alongside this, and through writing for many games outlets, Rob is an established voice on games’ environments, landscapes and places, offering unique analysis and exploration of them, and revealing the real world design secrets and traits that feature in them. Currently a Hardware Editor for gaming website GamesRadar, Rob continues to write about virtual landscapes, gardens and horticulture, gives talks at events, and flies the flag for video game environment appreciation.
- 14th December 2021 The bones of winter landscapes
Winter landscapes are some of my absolute favourites - in real life and in games. Despite being relatively empty (the use of ‘relatively’ is important when looking at winter lands) there’s often a deceptive amount to actually see, identify, and appreciate.
I often refer back to the Frederick Gibberd quote “If someone tells me he is a keen gardener I ask to see his garden in February. Has it become…19th November 2021 A Genius Loci update - from a friend
I’ve mentioned before that one of my best friends, Freddy, and I play games together online regularly - sometimes as a pair, and often as a three with another close friend. However, Freddy and I have been exploring the glorious and chaotic world of Far Cry 6 at the moment, taking in the beautiful island-nation of Yara. On a recent trip through the tropical landscape, Freddy offered to write my…23rd October 2021 Sacred and spiritual landscapes
I’m not religious at all but I have always been interested in religious, sacred, and spiritual landscapes - this mainly comes from my interest in meaning, narratives, and stories in landscape design. From sacred olive groves in the Mediterranean to western Christian cemeteries, and from ancient sacred landscapes (like Stonehenge in my previous update) to natural landscapes which humans have imbued…3rd October 2021 Druidic landscape character
Autumn is well and truly here now, isn’t it? It’s been a pretty grim week here in the West Country, and my reward for starting my regular days in the office last week was one of the wettest walks home in my life. Thanks, weather. However, this just marks the turning of the seasonal wheels once more, and summer feels far away already.
Just before summer did finally leave us, my wife and I, and Bella…10th September 2021 A bit of Irish 'bookspiration'
I’m not long back from a trip that was perfect book inspiration - or ‘bookspiration’ as I’ve come to call it. It was a jolly away for another wedding (congrats again, Dave & Karen), but one that felt more of a getaway and adventure.
Staying just outside of Cookstown in Mid Ulster, Northern Ireland, we didn't fully realise the fortune of our choice, and the beauty of the location we chose to stay…20th August 2021 Of weddings and harvests
It’s supposed to be the most gloriously sunny and warm time of year but both have proved somewhat elusive across our UK landscapes - particularly in any great measure. It’s been a pretty unreliable summer.
It’s a time of walking in fields of wheat or barley for me, my wife, and the dog - something so evocative and also a key bit of iconography from my favourite film, Gladiator - and also outdoor…30th July 2021 Playing games for research, exploration, and book additions...
The dust has settled after Genius Loci’s blistering start to its crowdfunding journey, and I’ve been quite busy hustling in the background to try and help things along in other ways.
Sometimes this takes the form of endless note-taking and compiling just so I can record ideas, or collating real-world images from visits or dog walks here in the Somerset countryside that I can use for inspiration…29th April 2021 An update that's been four years in the making - Thank you
It’s been almost precisely four years since I first emailed a games website about writing about games – from this came my first video game landscape article. It set off a tremendous domino effect and journey that at times felt like a slog, at others a breeze, but which ultimately has led me to this point: launching the crowdfunding campaign for Genius Loci. It’s incredibly humbling, exciting, and…
These people are helping to fund Genius Loci.
Henry St Leger