from the just-real-enough dept
We’ve featured a number of stories here about entities attempting to pass off video game footage as something in real life. On the one hand, since these stories usually feature governments doing this in a pretty bald-faced attempt at trickery, and since these attempts at trickery typically have something to do with the realm of war, it’s easy to take a negative view of the whole thing entirely. On the other hand, it’s hard to escape the notion that our video games have gotten so realistic so as to be able to fool large swaths of people into thinking they are depictions of the real thing, which is pretty damned cool.
And, yet, even when the use of game footage is more innocuous, it still seems to get people’s fur up. In the UK, one housing developer was caught using a screenshot from Cities: Skylines, a city-building game, in its pitch material for a housing project.
The eight-page brochure, which was published by this newspaper earlier this week,outlines Norwich-based firm Lanpro’s vision for a town the size of Thetford, just off the A1067. Lifelong gamer, Matt Carding-Woods, recognised an image used on page three of the document as a screenshot from the 2015 city building game, Cities: Skylines, released by studio Colossal Order.
Lanpro defended the image’s use as educational, and said the document was only ever intended to be distributed internally.
A number of things apparently gave it away, including small patches of brown trees being rendered around garbage incinerators to represent pollution. While that’s actually quite funny, some residents and internet users criticized the developer for failing to note that the image was a screenshot from the game. Residents in particular seemed to indicate that the image’s use demonstrated the cavalier attitude the developer was taking the project as a whole.
But how does that make any sense? Developers typically include renderings of future projects in pitch material. Those renderings are usually created by graphical artists that specialize in that sort of thing. But if Cities:Skylines is simply good enough at depicting residential neighborhoods that one can create a rendering within the game and use that instead, how is that anything other than pretty neat? Now, in this case, it seems that Lanpro used a neighborhood created in the game by another player. But, again, so what? As Lanpro’s Chris Leeming notes, it’s not like this is the first time a developer has used images from the game to pitch a project.
“It is after the detailed technical work and analysis that we will be able to form a masterplan for the proposals and provide an image of what the scheme may look like.”
He added that there have been several examples of the “serious use of this software to model, engage and explain projects,” including by city planners working in Stockholm, Sweden.
And that makes sense. As games become better simulations and have increasingly convincing imagery, I would expect to see more of this rather than less.