Gaming’s Repurposed Spaces



Since the turn of the century, repurposed spaces have proliferated, spurred by 21st century cultural influences and the green initiative. It’s redefining the urban fabric, evident here in Lower Manhattan where the world’s commercial mecca has become increasingly residential since 2001. More creative endeavours have led to efforts including the iconic Freitag store in Zurich and a Redondo Beach house, both utilizing the ever popular recycled shipping container.

Recently, the most creative repurposed structures have existed in the digital realm of games, from Mirror’s Edge to Fallout 3.

Diverging from the industrial greyness that pervades today’s games, the art direction of last year’s parkour extravaganza Mirror’s Edge reigned supreme (See CG Society Production Focus). The architecture is for the most part pleasant, banal modernism, and purposely so, reminiscent of how Sydney was used to similar effect in The Matrix. Yet this city has a gorgeously hypnotic sheen accomplished with slick reflections and abundant whites accompanied by strong blue, orange and red hues. Among the architectural standouts is a nondescript AC cooling unit. Gutted, it serves as a concealed makeshift command center for the renegade runners, outfitted with considerable computer hardware.

Last year’s game of the year, Fallout 3, redefines the repurposing of spaces in a grandiose way its two predecessors never did. Rivet City, a grounded and severed aircraft carrier that serves as a residential, scientific and trading outpost, conjures a virtual realization of the Freedom Ship. The Jefferson Memorial, has been transformed into a water purification plant, yet the most ingenious concept is the town of Megaton.

Built around a crater with an undetonated nuclear bomb, the town walls and buildings are constructed from the wreckage of a commercial airliner supplemented by additional materials from remnants at a nearby airport. The town rises three to four stories high in a quarry style pattern. Traversing to the upper levels involves one walking directly over the roofs of residences and businesses. Especially at dusk, Megaton transcends its haphazard deconstructivist qualities, the metal glistening in the sunlight like a Gehry building. As with most repurposed spaces, showing an image somehow is insufficient, it must be experienced.

Fallout 3 Project Purity Concept Art

Mirror’s Edge & Fallout 3 Concept Art. Copyright Electronic Arts and Bethesda Softworks respectively.