slum magazine

“Our dreams are a second life.” ~Gerard de Nerval

The Beauty of Virtual Worlds

By Cat Boccaccio.


Video games are busy places. Gamers are constantly in battle, or saving worlds or destroying enemies or facing impossible challenges. These worlds aren’t meant for leisurely exploration, but are settings for action and adventure. Unless, that is, you are writer and gamer Andy Kelly (ultrabrilliant on YouTube), who has found a way to break free of the gameplay long enough to film some of the most popular environments in gaming. The haunting soundtracks in theses videos are taken directly from the game scores.

Dunwall, a dank, dangerous, plague-ridden city, which reminds me vaguely of post-Industrial Revolution London (though industry has taken a very dark turn) is the setting for the video game Dishonored. Clearly an adult game, there are warnings about blood and gore, intense violence, sexual themes, and strong language. Yet, Andy Kelly captures the innate beauty of Dunwall in all its stunning detail.

Portal 2 offers up a completely different world, with robotics as compelling as any vista in the city of Dunwall. Described as a first person puzzle-platform game, it eschews the bloodshed for a darkly humorous, clever, physics-inspired experience, as you navigate the sinister Aperture Laboratories.

Another favourite in the series is Columbia, the floating dystopian city in the violent first-person shooter BioShock Infinite. Set in 1912, the protagonist sets out on a rescue mission, only to become ensnarled in the bleak conflict between the brutal ruling class and the rebellion. BioShock Infinite is the most recently released of the three games (March 2013), and it is an absolute visual feast, demonstrating what talent, imagination, and virtually unlimited resources can accomplish.

How does Second Life, which is not populated by experts with unlimited resources, stack up against these lush, highly intricate virtual game worlds? There are breathtaking builds and art installations in Second Life, as explored and recorded by machinima artists like Joe Zazulak, and by Draxtor Despres in his World Maker series. It is ironic that Second Life, the perfect setting for leisurely exploration of the fantastic, is solely resident-created and limited by internal technology; and the stunning video worlds Mr Kelly introduces us to are meant solely as backdrops to the action, and explorable only by gentle hacking.

Andy Kelly has made 17 (to date) machinimas, each featuring a different game and location, in celebration of the beauty of virtual worlds. They are inspiring, to say the least.

For slum magazine.


About slummagazine

slum magazine is about all things Second Life: art, music, news, reviews, shopping, love and life.

5 comments on “The Beauty of Virtual Worlds

  1. Pingback: The Beauty of Virtual Worlds | Virtual Worlds C...

  2. Pingback: The Beauty of Virtual Worlds | Second Life and ...

  3. Pingback: The Beauty of Virtual Worlds | Mundos Virtuales...

  4. c3
    September 23, 2013

    er.. these game environments are designed and executed for millions of dollars in cost… the market creates the ROI to make this occur.

    in Second life the “market” is barely a pulse today, and was barely a hiccup at its PR height in 2006-7. Even then, a fully funded “world” that was paid for by a ROI thought would tap out at 100k. and the work of only a few artists and designers and programmers…

    factors of financial 10s easily.


    • slummagazine
      September 23, 2013

      Correct. Which is why I didn’t make a direct comparison of those games to SL. Second Life is resident-created, and that is the joy of it. Video games have limitless talent and cash behind them, and that is the joy of their worlds.



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This entry was posted on September 17, 2013 by in Original slum Content, Reviews & Opinion and tagged , , , , .


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