Genius Loci

By Rob Dwiar

A grand tour of video game landscapes and gardens

Wednesday, 25 May 2022

Venetian inspiration - feeling the connection between in-game places and real places

We’re racing toward summer and the best time of year for gardens and landscapes. There really is nothing better than enjoying the lush and vividly green world in the warmth of the summer sun, be it from a window, in your own garden, on dog walks, or on the golf course (to give you a window into my life there). 

But before that really arrives, this next Genius Loci update comes just after a glorious trip to Venice that my wife and I took. It has long been on our bucket list, and was going to be part of an Italian Tour for our honeymoon back in 2020 - no prizes for guessing what happened to those plans…

I’m sure lots of you will have been to Venice - it is one of the most visited cities in Europe after all - but I particularly enjoyed it having had (another) virtual attachment to it as a place through games. I once wrote about the Venice of Assassin’s Creed II and its wonderful representation of a Renaissance city, and, of course, the game’s creation of the green spaces, squares, and how Ventiains used plants throughout the water-bound city. And, although one plays a game in a matter of hours really it was by playing this game, and then writing about it that I formed this latent connection with it. As a result, it was really quite something seeing it in the flesh, compared to it being on the TV screen. 

There were plenty of opportunities to point out famous places visited in the game by Ezio (the main protagonist and much-loved character from the series), and I could even visualise him climbing up the walls using the braces on the side of buildings, hopping between pillars, and walking through shadowy corners of squares and pocket gardens…

It is a movingly-beautiful place - when we went up St. Mark’s Belltower; I felt myself go all quiet all the while we enjoyed the views; resting my head against the wire partition and deeply breathing out - a lot! I’d go back tomorrow if I could.

It is this kind of relationship that games and places in games can have on us, and one that will be a central theme to a few of the case studies of Genius Loci that I can’t wait to share with you all. There is a definite connection that one can have to a place virtually through games and ‘being’ in a place (or through books, movies, et al), and this can often only serve to increase the power of the real place, and give it an incredible sense of place, and add an extra layer of meaning.

Perhaps I should do more of these real-life trips to Genius Loci locations… Keep sharing, and soon we can make such conversations a reality within Genius Loci. Thanks once more for your support!

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