Inspirational Roadmap

Friend Richard generated these freakishly interesting little road maps of small towns on interstate highways (or something). I actually can’t speak much to their genesis other than that they’re algorithmically generated in some way.

The important thing is that I find there’s something incredibly evocative about these imaginary places, perhaps especially being the romanticism (almost certainly the wrong word) of them being based around a highway. It makes me think of video games, unsurprisingly, and it makes me compare the landscapes drawn here in simple 2D lines with the landscapes we inhabit when we play a game.

In other words, I think these little diagrams speak to the “death of imagination” in contemporary video games – the player’s imagination rather than the designer/developer’s. Whereas in playing Fallout 3 or GTA IV so much of the imagining is done for me – perhaps so much so that I barely imagine anything – these diagrams at least hint at an enormous amount of imagining I could do if I chose. That mysterious potential is quite fabulous.

What does this even have to do with games? Frankly, I’m unsure. Was I more imaginative when I played Police Quest in all its blocky glory? It’s quite possible I was not – it’s not like I recall photorealistic versions of its scenes generated by my imagination during my playings. On the other hand, I’m suspicious about my capacity for imagination in the first place.

But by golly I like those imaginary street maps.

20 May 2010
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