By Konstantinos Dimopoulos
A beautifully illustrated atlas exploring and mapping the spectacular imaginary cities of video games.
Publication date: November 2020Support this project
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Video games allow us to construct and visit believable imaginary cities, provide us with glimpses of ancient urbanism, and let us immerse ourselves in the wildest utopias and darkest dystopias of our possible futures. They are an unprecedented canvas for experimenting with the urban environment, and an utterly unique medium for experiencing cities both imagined and real in truly immersive ways.
Game urbanist, designer, and writer Konstantinos Dimopoulos, and visual artist Maria Kallikaki have embarked on a virtual journey to explore, catalogue, and map the most spectacular, intriguing, and defining places of this new digital geography.
Virtual Cities: An Atlas & Exploration of Video Game Cities is an ambitious and richly illustrated atlas that is the first detailed attempt to document the deep and exciting history of game cities via a combination of original maps, ink drawings, and insightful commentary and analysis.
Virtual Cities will be a beautiful book meant for lovers of cartography and imaginary worlds, artists, game designers, world builders, and, above all, everyone who plays and cares for video games.
Virtual Cities covers over 40 game cities across literary and gaming genres. Cities spanning almost 40 years of digital history, including detailed entries on Half-Life 2’s City 17, Yakuza’s Kamurocho, Fallout’s New Vegas, Silent Hill, and less well-known cities such as Antescher and Lizard Breath, plus cyberpunk Hong Kong, and voodoo New Orleans among many, many more.
Every city featured in the atlas will be mapped through a combination of traditional and unorthodox cartographic methods including partial reconstruction, and the filling in of essential details, which allow us to visualize the often fragmented, incomplete, and out of scale cities of gaming in a cohesive way. It will also be accompanied by beautiful, subtly coloured ink drawings, and in-depth texts covering its history, design lessons, atmosphere, landmarks, and geography.
- At 150% five additional cities added to the book, which means more artwork, more content, more chances your favourite games will be included.
- At 175% we'll announce a Limited Edition Slipcase edition. You'll be able to upgrade your hardback to include this slipcase.
- At 200%, to say thank you for your incredible support, every backer will receive a digital book of sketches, early artwork, initial ideas and notes.
- Above 200% - Keep an eye out for more amazing stretch goals.
About the Book
- A full colour, high quality hardback with printed endpapers.
- Approximately 200 pages.
- 210 by 286mm format with head and tail bands.
- Over 40 original maps, and more than 100 drawings.
- Contains over 50,000 words and amazing pledge levels!
From metropolitan sci-fi open worlds and medieval fantasy towns, to contemporary cities and glimpses of gothic horror urbanism author and artist will research, map, visualize, and document some of the most iconic, complex and intriguing cities in gaming.
*Book designs and cover are for illustrative purpose and may differ to final design.
Following a PhD and over 10 years of research in urban planning and city geography, Konstantinos Dimopoulos moved on to combine his knowledge of cities with his love for games and game design into the field of game urbanism. Since then he has worked on the cities, settlements, mechanics, maps, and geographies of several games including MMO Seed, The Sinking City, Cyberganked, and Cyberpunk Cities. He never really stopped lecturing, writing words, giving talks, designing his own games, and fiddling with virtual worlds, though the cartography of imaginary worlds is a relatively recent obsession of his.
Maria Kallikaki is a visual artist specializing in landscape oil-paintings, engravings, and ink illustrations. She has been educating children in the arts for over 10 years. Oil painting aside, she has been applying her skills to books, posters, and even video games, while also experimenting with three dimensional art objects. She studied Painting and Engraving at the Academy of Fine Arts (Accademia di Belle Arti) in Florence, Italy.
There aren't any children in City 17. The dilapidated playgrounds are devoid of life, and will remain so for as long as the all-encompassing Suppression Field keeps on preventing human procreation. And it's not just the playgrounds that stand abandoned either. Many of the city's buildings are crumbling, and even more have been empty husks for years. Despite the soft daylight and long, almost romantic shadows, City 17 is neither a happy nor a vibrant place.
Even pinpointing its exact location is tricky. The direction of the sunlight, and the widespread use of the Cyrillic alphabet suggest Eastern Europe, most probably Bulgaria, yet one can also find a few signs and graffiti in Greek or even Scandinavian. With its exact location remaining a mystery, not much can be known of the place's early history, beside the fact it wasn't always called City 17. The architecture that still stands, itself a monument of better days, allows a simple reconstruction of the city's evolution from the neoclassicism of the 19th Century, to early modernism, to the Soviet functionalism that followed World War 2, to postmodern styles, to a truly alien, cold, and monolithic version of Brutalism.
Following the Seven Hour War, along with the rest of Earth, City 17 is no longer under humanity's control. The unconditional surrender of the unified human government has turned the devastatingly powerful extraterrestrial forces of the Combine into the planet's new absolute rulers. It is they who constructed imposing Citadels in major cities. It is they who chose to erect the greatest of the Citadels in City 17 turning it into their de facto global capital, where Wallace Breen, former head of Black Mesa and Earth's current appointed Administrator, has his headquarters.
- 3rd August 2020 Virtual Cities, Real Printers
Good news everyone! We've hit the printers a week (or so) ago, and Virtual Cities will soon become a very real, very published atlas! Expect more news and details soon.
Konstantinos26th May 2020 The Unavoidable Covid-19 Update
Hope everyone is doing well, and that you are all keeping as safe as possible during these trying times.
As for me and mine, we are all thankfully fine. I'm currently waiting for the final Virtual Cities proofs to reach me and be approved, and I only now realized I hadn't updated you on the going ons regarding the publication of Virtual Cities for quite some time.
So, though the book is essentially…27th January 2020 Preparing for print & the end of the crowdfunding period
Hello again and thank you all so much!
The Virtual Cities campaign hit 201%, admittedly surpassed the wildest of my estimations, and I have you all (as well as your generosity and support) to thank! So, thank you all for making this happen!
Also, the crowdfunding period is now over, and all the stretch goals have been unlocked. This means that while the final touches and corrections are being…24th January 2020 200% funded / final stretch goal unlocked
As the Virtual Cities crowdfunding campaign is reaching its end, I'm happy to announce that the campaign hit 200% of its funding goal, and thus the third stretch goal has been unlocked! This means that all backers of the Virtual Cities atlas will also be receiving a digital booklet packed with sketches, early artwork, initial ideas, and notes.
Pre-ordering your copy before MIDNIGHT SUNDAY 26…7th January 2020 *** The supporters list is closing ***
Happy 2020 everyone! It is a brand new year, and the time for a rather important Virtual Cities announcement to go along with my warmest wishes for health, luck, happiness, and peace!
So... Τhe supporters list for Virtual Cities will be closing on the 26th of January 2020, which means that this will be the very last date for people who pledge for a reward to also get their names listed in the back…14th November 2019 A peek at the 'Collection of Game Design Articles' ebook
While the designers of Unbound are busy making Virtual Cities as beautiful a book as it can be, I've been working on the ebook promised to the people backing the atlas at the Collection of Game Design Articles, Three Prints, Map Print, Postcards and Prints, Hangout, Slipcase Edition, Patron, and Super Patron levels. This collection of articles, essays, talks, and new and previously unpublished…17th September 2019 An Update for September
With the summer safely behind us, the time for another short update has come. The book, you see, has been written and edited since quite a while, and the excellent Unbound team is currently working hard on the final design of Virtual Cities -- obviously both I and Maria were asked for our input, and the first drafts are looking great.
Parallel to that the two of us are working to finalize the…19th July 2019 News, dates, and an exhibition
I am happy to let you all know that Virtual Cities has entered its pre-press phase, meaning that all the thoroughly edited, touched-up, and polished texts, illustrations, and maps are now ready to be assembled into the final version of the atlas. There are of course things still left to be done by the excellent Unbound team (mainly design work, type-setting, proofreading, and the…5th June 2019 Second Stretch Goal Hit
Due to your continuing (and touching) support of the Virtual Cities campaign, we just hit 175% funded, and unlocked our second stretch goal! As promised a new reward level has thus been made available: the exclusive Slipcase Edition. It features the (expensive to produce in limited numbers) slipcase, the hardcover book itself, the signed bookplate, and the map print.
Oh, and editing the book has…16th May 2019 Manuscript, maps and artwork submitted!
Hello! It's taken longer than expected, but now the last of the city maps, as well as the book's introduction have finally been submitted, and, with this, the first (and greatest) step towards the completion of the actual atlas has been achieved! Virtual Cities is actually, truly happening, and I honestly have to thank you all for the incredible support, and believe that you will all love what…22nd February 2019 Progress Beneath a Union City
The 45th city to appear in the Virtual Cities atlas will be the dystopian Union City from 1994's Beneath A Steel Sky. This beautifully illustrated, rich, sci-fi metropolis governed by the all-powerful LINC computer is the final addition to the book's contents (previously announced here); the 45th atlas entry.
What's more, after countless hours of work the Virtual Cities manuscript is finally…23rd January 2019 Progress Report
January, 2019 is almost over, and we have finally moved past the 50% mark, meaning that I do expect us to submit the final manuscript of Virtual Cities (complete with illustrations, and maps) in less than two months from now. What's more, my amazing wife, Vivi, an engineer with a masters in urban planning herself, has joined the team to lend us her cartographic expertise, help us make even better…27th December 2018 Happy Civic Holidays!
Happy holidays everyone, and here's to a wonderful, healthy, happy, and creative 2019!
With eighteen entries finalized --admittedly Orgrimmar proved a bit trickier than expected, and mapping Metro City wasn't as straightforward as I believed it would be-- we are making good progress on Virtual Cities, and are still on schedule. My original estimate of delivering the manuscript to Unbound in the…4th December 2018 Virtual Cities: The Contents Revealed
Narrowing over forty years, dozens of platforms, a menagerie of genres, and a multitude of game city types (and styles) down to the 45 entries of the Virtual Cities atlas wasn't an easy task. I will not bore you with the details, but know that a few hundred hours were dedicated to researching, playing, re-playing, reading, and finally deciding on 41 of those cities. The remaining four were selected…21st November 2018 A Rather Wintery Civic Update
I was hoping to be able to announce the final list of the atlas entries in this update (and was thus postponing it), but am still working with a couple of our super-generous 'Name A City'-level backers on the cities they did like to see featured in Virtual Cities; we are thus not there just yet. Happily though, after dozens of hours of researching…27th September 2018 150% reached - five cities added!
Amazingly, Virtual Cities hit its very first stretch goal at 150% funded, and five more entries have been added to the book! The atlas will thus now grow bigger to include 45 game cities, and I can't help but thank you all so very, very much. We honestly never really expected this much love, and support to be shown to our project.
Oh, and even though at least another 10 illustration, 5 maps…13th September 2018 The steampunk-ish New Bretagne of Lamplight City
Brilliant detective adventure Lamplight City by Grundislav Games has just been released on Steam and GOG, and I am happy to announce that its rich, atmospheric, Victorian, steampunk-ish city will be part of the Virtual Cities atlas. What's more, creator Francisco Gonzalez has been kind enough to provide me with a pre-release copy of the game, concept artwork, design documents, and all of the city…10th September 2018 Take a closer look at one of the best video game cities, Grim Fandango’s Rubacava
Summer's (almost) gone, a lot of work has been done on the Virtual Cities atlas, and the lovely Polygon published an excerpt from the book on Grim Fandango's Rubacava. Read it here. You'll also notice that the words are accompanied by a new illustration by Maria Kallikaki.
- Konstantinos1st August 2018 A Midsummer Update on Virtual Cities
It's been a while since the last update on the Virtual Cities atlas, and as you may have noticed the campaign is steadily climbing towards its first stretch goal. Achieving 150% feels like something we can actually reach, and I've thus slightly readjusted our plans to allow for the inclusion of 45 cities in the book; that's roughly an extra 10 illustrations, 5 maps, and over 5000 words.
Speaking…27th June 2018 The Imaginary Realism of Bus Simulator 18
Virtual Cities, being an atlas that intends to cover all aspects of videogame urbanism, is, appropriately, also aiming to encompass the entire range of gaming's cities. So, following last week's announcement regarding the inclusion of 0°N 0°W's surreal urban entities, here's a short update to let you know that the contemporary, realistic, and yet imaginary (to the point of utopianism some…22nd June 2018 The magical, surreal maps of 0°N 0°W
0°N 0°W was released only a few months ago by indie studio Colorfiction, and is a truly unique exercise in surreal urbanism, and the crafting of strange, dreamlike cities. An unexpectedly meditative interactive experience exploring the possibilities of imaginary, experimental planning, I simply had to include in the Virtual Cities atlas.
As visiting 0°N 0°W can be pretty…20th June 2018 Expanding Virtual Cities -- The Stretch Goals
I never expected Virtual Cities to be funded in less than three weeks, and both I and Maria Kallikaki are truly grateful for your support, and very excited to be working on our atlas of game cities. Also, having discussed things with the lovely people of Unbound we are now in the happy position of being able to announce our stretch goals:
13th June 2018 The Continuous City by Gareth Damian Martin
- At 150% of the funding goal five additional cities…
Game cities are a fascinating subject, and as is the case with all fascinating subjects, they can be approached, explored, and appreciated in a multitude of ways. Readers intrigued by our Virtual Cities atlas might thus also be interested in a radically different approach.
The Continuous City by Gareth Damian Martin is a collection of wonderful, black and white, analogue photography exploring…5th June 2018 Virtual Cities is happening!
First of all, a huge THANK YOU to all you wonderful people who helped the Virtual Cities campaign reach its funding goal in less than three weeks! Both I and Maria Kallikaki are beyond excited in the knowledge that our atlas is indeed happening! We also now know how (and where) to spend our summer.
What's more, we are looking --along with the wonderful team @ Unbound-- for ways of making this…29th May 2018 Two Brand New 'Virtual Cities' Pledge Levels
Popular demand --expressed both publicly in the book's FAQ secion, and privately via emails-- led us to the inclusion of two new pledge levels for the Virtual Cities campaign:
- the Signed Bookplate and Postcards (a special offer) level offering the book, the signed bookplate, and the postcards,
- and the Book Bundle pledge aimed at retailers, and indie shops featuring five copies of the atlas…25th May 2018 Fallen London and the Cartography of a Thousand Stories
Fallen London, the wonderfully dark and deliciously devilish Victorian Gothic metropolis of Failbetter Games, and also the intricate urban setting of both Fallen London and Sunless Sea will be a part of the Virtual Cities atlas!* What's more, the incredibly generous people of Failbetter Games shall be helping me and Maria Kallikaki map this fabulously intricate imaginary city, capture and re-interpret…24th May 2018 An Update on the Virtual Cities campaign
We have decided to remove all references to GTA V, and Los Santos, as well as all references to Bioshock from the campaign (and the relevant updates). We will be focusing on other virtual cities instead.22nd May 2018 10 Virtual Cities cities revealed!
Thank you all for the wonderful, heart-warming support!
The Virtual Cities atlas, this artful, and very cartographic journey through gaming's cities would never be possible without the love you have shown it (and us). Honestly, thank you!
The campaign is already approaching the point of being 50% funded, and I'm certain that by spreading the word even further, we'll be hitting 100% very soon…18th May 2018 Welcome to the very real Virtual Cities campaign
Back in 2017 I and artist Maria Kallikaki decided that launching a virtual cartographic expedition to map, explore, and capture the essence of gaming's most intriguing cities would be an adventure worth embarking on.
Now, almost a year later I can't help but feel we are almost there. Virtual Cities is happening, and I'd like to ask all you wonderful people for your help in spreading the word on…
These people are helping to fund Virtual Cities.
John White III