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WHS in Video Games

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Author joelonroad
#16 | Posted: 9 Oct 2020 01:25 
I've been playing Forza Horizon 4 the last few weeks, which is set in the UK. Surprisingly it includes three separate World Heritage Sites! The Lake District (including Ambleside and Derwent Water), the Old and New Towns of Edinburgh, and the Forth Bridge also makes an appearance in the background (though you can't drive anywhere near it, it's just background scenery).

Author AT8
#17 | Posted: 11 Oct 2020 09:49 
I've been playing Forza Horizon 4 the last few weeks, which is set in the UK. Surprisingly it includes three separate World Heritage Sites! The Lake District (including Ambleside and Derwent Water), the Old and New Towns of Edinburgh, and the Forth Bridge also makes an appearance in the background (though you can't drive anywhere near it, it's just background scenery).

Honestly, with all the global travel restrictions these days, the only ways to experience world heritage sites are to watch movies or play video games.

I would try to restrict this connection to real-life depiction/replicas of actual buildings, rather than a generic place. For example, some games are set in the Amazon, but that could also easily be a rainforest in Africa or Asia. While I haven't played Forza Horizon, I do agree that the depictions of Edinburgh and Lake District are very close (based on watching youtube videos by gamers), though I probably won't include background scenery for Forth Bridge. I'd say you should at least be within the "core zone" of the heritage site or right next to it.

Here are a few ones that aren't on the connections yet:
Delphi - Assassin's Creed Odyssey
Mycenae and Tiryns- Assassin's Creed Odyssey
Delos - Assassin's Creed Odyssey
Samos - Assassin's Creed Odyssey - Heraion of Samos
Temple of Apollo Epicurius - Assassin's Creed Odyssey
Statue of Liberty - Tom Clancy's The Division 2 (Warlords of New York Expansion)
Frank Lloyd Buildings - Marvel's Spider-Man - Guggenheim Museum
Tower of London - Watch Dogs: Legion
Palace of Westminster - Watch Dogs: Legion
Lake District - Forza Horizon 4
Edinburgh - Forza Horizon 4 - Ambleside, Derwent Water

Speaking of which, I realize that the video game company Ubisoft publishes a lot of these titles. They really try to use real-life locations rather than fictional countries, which should be applauded considering that it is probably easier to create something fictional than to try to recreate a real-life location/building with all the details accurate.

Author elsslots
#18 | Posted: 13 Oct 2020 11:13 
Thanks, guys. I've added them.

Author Astraftis
#19 | Posted: 10 Nov 2020 19:59 | Edited by: Astraftis 
I recently finished playing the last episode of a wonderful series of old, Gabriel Knight (graphic adventures based on supernatural and occult mysteries), and, given its attention for details and its immersive atmospheres, I was convinced that at least some of the locations where it takes place would be WHS... but, with my disappointment, it is not the case. Indeed, neither New Orleans nor Rennes-le-Château nor München are. There's only Neuschwanstein and Herrenchiemsee which are on the tentative list of Germany as "Dreams in Stone - the palaces of King Ludwig II of Bavaria". Unfortunately, if I remember well, one goes to the Starnberg lake, but there's no mention of the pile dwellings of the Roseninsel either (I'm sorry, @elsslots).

In any case, I did a branstorming to retrieve from my memory all appearances of WHS in videogames I have played, and subject them to public scrutiny. In some cases, I'd favour a less strict approach than the hyperrealism proposed in the original post, if the WHS in question is represented with enough details and in spirit, within the technical limits of that game. As a side note, it's actually amazing how so few in my personal "collection" are tied to real places.
But anyway, this is what I found out:

- Sherlock Holmes Versus Arsène Lupin: one of the initial scenarios takes place inside a rather detailed Tower of London, where you, Sherlock, are investigating. Apart from that, you are in the London, but don't go to other WHS.
- Vampire the Masquerade: Redemption: a rather crude depiction (3D graphics of 2000, so it cannot hold a candle to the later Assassin's Creeds) of the old town of Prague, a wonderful setting for a rather disappointing game. The story begins there in the Middle Ages, and you get to see some rendition of the St. Vitus cathedral, the Golden Lane, and so on. I found it very nice!
- Moebius: Empire Rising: A quite recent (2014) graphic adventure by the same author of Gabriel Knight. In the first chapter you go to Venice. As far as it is possible for a game with painted fixed backgrounds, you have a coffee in San Marco square and perform investigations in a very characteristic alley with canal of the city. Since I personally consider Venice more as a metaphysical rather than a real city, I think that a similar evocative scenario should count, even if it does not actually exist; it truly cannot be anywhere else but there! :-) In the final chapter you go to an unheard-of Qatari fortress named "Qal'at Al-Sakhra Al-Athema", which looks very similar to that of al Zubarah, but is described as quite ancient.
- Atlantis 3: The New World: Another graphic adventure, and a weird one. This might be controversial, I think. The game starts in Algeria, where the protagonist is looking for Egyptian ruins in the Ahaggar/Hoggar (explicitly cited). There are very curious rock formations (this is a gameplay of the first minutes) which could be those of the Tassili n'Ajjer. Now, I don't know if this is just a confusion of names (Berber vs. Arabic vs. transliterated spellings) and/or of similar places... later you also have puzzles dealing with cave art.

And now for a different category, namely: the wonders of Age of Empires! In this strategy game set in different historical eras, every civilization has buildings belonging to a given "cultural set" (central European, Middle-Eastern, etc.), but each has one unique building which should represent their peak, and which stands out from all other: the wonder! Unsurprisingly, many are WHSs. I think that their status in the game is so special and their models enough detailed to warrant them a place in this connection... why not? And in few other games you can experience the heartbreaking event of destroying a WHS (it always makes me uneasy). Here they go:
* Age of Empire 1:
- A ziggurat of Ur for Babylonians, Persians and Hittites;
- The Great Pyramid of Giza for Egyptians, Assirians, Sumerians (why);
- The Temple of Heaven for Yamato, Shang, Choson;
- An integer Colosseum (so, historic centre of Rome) for Romans, Carthaginians, Palmyrians, Macedonians.
* Age of Empires II:
- Britons: they had the Aachen cathedral for whatever reason before the definitive edition of the game came out (now it's Chichester's)
- Byzantines: Hagia Sophia (so, historical areas of Istanbul)
- Chinese: Temple of Heaven (again)
- Franks: St. Vitus cathedral in Prague (I don't understand it fully)
- Goths: Mausoleum of Theoderic I (so, Ravenna)
- Japanese: Tōdai-ji in Nara
- Saracens: Great Mosque of Samarra
- Turks (Ottomans): Selimiye Mosque in Edirne
- Huns: the arc of Constantine in Rome (so another appearance for the historic centre of Rome). It's represented in ruins, so it's rather updated!
- Mayans: Great Jaguar Temple in Tikal
- Incas: Sun Temple of Macchu Picchu
- Indians: Bridahisvara Temple
- Slavs: Church on Kiži Island
- Berbers: Hassan tower in Rabat
- Ethipians: Biete Amanuel rock-hewn church of Lalibela
- Malians: Great mosque of Djenné
- Portuguese: tower of Belém
- Burmese: Now, here I am not sure if the Shwezigon pagoda, or anything in the town of Nyaung-U, is included in the area of Bagan
- Khmer: Angkor Wat
- Tatars: the Ulugh Beg observatory in Samarkand
* Age of Mythology - here things verge on the imaginary, but there are still some real sites
- Greeks - Zeus: his own statue in Olympia (no more existing); Poseidon: an integer theater of Dyonisus (included in the Akropolis?)
- Egyptians - Ra: Great Pyramid of Giza (+1); Isis: the Great Sphynx of Gizah (+1); Set: Hathor's temple at Abu Simbel
- Chinese - Fu Xi: Hall of Harmony in the Forbidden City; Nü Wa: the Summer Palace in Peking; Shennong: the Temple of Heaven (what else)
* Age of Empires 3
- Things are less clear here, "wonders" seem to be more generic (and limited to Asian civilizations). But of course we have the Temple of Heaven also here.

In sum, the most recurrent represented WHSs are the eternal and immutable Temple of Heaven, followed by Gizah and Rome. But many other choices are much less trivial!


And this is really all I could think of! :-D

Author Parsons
#20 | Posted: 16 Nov 2020 07:52 
Assassin's Creed Valhalla has Stonehenge and Hadrian's Wall. It raises an interesting question of whether its rendition of Canterbury Cathedral counts, as the game is set in 873 and the current Cathedral dates to 1077 after being entirely rebuilt. It does not seem to contain St Augustine's Abbey, and as far as I can tell an in-game church called St Martin's is not representative of the real one. I'm going by what little I can find on Youtube, though, so if anyone has played the game and can offer clarification that would be good.

Author Zoe
#21 | Posted: 6 Oct 2021 00:33 
Assassin's Creed Origins
I realized as well as mentioning the Wadi Al-Hitan in-game you can also find whale bones as an easter egg. It's not a very accurate depicting though.

Author AT8
#22 | Posted: 28 Nov 2021 10:17 
Forza Horizon 5 has Teotihuacan, Uxmal and Guanajuato.

Author Zoe
#23 | Posted: 20 Sep 2022 01:32 
Assassin's Creed Valhalla has:
Hadrian's Wall
Giant's Causeway

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