If you were big on FPS games in the early 2000s, I’m pretty sure you would have been part of the Counter-Strike-playing crowd, and if you were you would probably remember every nook and cranny of one of its most famous maps: de_dust. Now imagine being able to explore the map – in real life. While de_dust wasn’t based on a real location, a famous modern artist known as Aram Bartholl wants to change all that – by creating a life sized replica of the map.
The artist who is known for combining elements of the virtual world with reality, has written up a proposal for money that will be used to research, create small scale models and promote the de_dust replica that he intends to build. “Why would anyone want to build de_dust?” you might ask, and Bartholl has his reasons for choosing it:
Computer games differ from other mediums such as books, movies or TV, in that spatial cognition is a crucial aspect in computer games. To win a game the player needs to know the 3D game space very very well. Spatial recognition and remembrance is an important part of our human capability and has formed over millions of years by evolution. A place, house or space inscribes itself in our spatial memory. We can talk about the qualities of the same movies we watched or books we have read. But millions of gamers experienced the same worlds in computer games. They all remember very well the spaces that they’ve spent a great deal of time in.
Computer game architecture and game maps have become a new and yet undiscovered form of cultural heritage. How many people in the world have seen the real Time Square, the Kaaba in Mecca or the Tiananmen Square with their own eyes? Millions of players share the experience of the same computer games and 3D spaces they have ‘lived’ in for a significant amount of time in their lives.
A computer game map like ‘de_dust’ appears to be more real than many other places in the world such as artificially constructed places like supermarkets, airports or cities like Dubai. Unlike current computer games (with their endless worlds and terrains), game spaces of the 1990’s were still limited in size due to graphic card and processor power limitations. A respectively small and simple map like ‘de_dust’ offered a high density of team play with repetitive endless variations.
It sounds like a great idea and one that I would fully support (yes, I used to be a CS-fanboy). Hopefully Bartholl receives the grant and the green light to go ahead with the project. I can’t wait to see how it turns out to be like. Head over to Bartholl’s website to check out his other impressive masterpieces.