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Breathtaking digital recreation of 17th-century London won 1st prize

J-P Mauro - published on 02/20/18

Who says video games can't be educational?

Back in 2013, a group of six computer games design students from De Montfort University entered the Off The Map competition, which challenges students of video game design to turn historical maps into 3D environments. They took first place with this breathtaking recreation of 17th-century London. More specifically, they focused on an area called Pudding Lane, a possible starting point of the Great Fire, in the days leading up to it.

The video begins with detailed drawings and opens up to the full 3D environment, complete with unsanitary side streets, beautiful churches with attached graveyards, the local smithy, and cinematic shots of a vast sea of rooftops. While the world is devoid of people, the viewer can still get a sense of how bustling the city could be on streets packed with vendors and shops.

The Great Fire covered a large amount of the city, destroying much of the infrastructure, including 13,000 residences, 87 parish churches, 44 livery company halls, Old St Paul’s Cathedral, and even the Royal Exchange. However, records only show that only between 16 and 50 people died in the disaster. This number may have been larger, had the plague not taken nearly a fifth of London’s population the year before.

The students, who entered the competition under the name Pudding Lane Productions, were very proud of the work. After winning they said:

Our London has had a lot of love (and disease) poured into it, and whilst we’d love for everyone to have a stroll in its unsanitary streets, it was created primarily as an accurate, immersive visualization rather than a durable game experience.

This competition is a very good exercise for students striving to enter the gaming industry, as virtual tours become more and more trendy. Video games like Assassin’s Creed have created such detailed and historically accurate environments that they have begun offering alternate game modes where there is no story, rather one can walk freely through these vast landscapes and learn about life in that time period.

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