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  • Writer's pictureWill Boddy

fictional OP-ED for uni

Updated: Apr 25, 2021


July 25, 2020

Talking Point: Using Tasmania as the setting for Rockstar’s next Grand Theft Auto video game will help bolster the states cultural and creative industries.

HAVEN’T you ever wanted to zoom around the virtual city streets of Hobart in an Ocelot Pariah? Maybe explore deep into Tasmania’s Wilderness World Heritage Area to find out what mysterious beasts roam its depths.

You could always become a real estate mogul and snatch up luxurious properties all across the state. Or, just perform ruthless bank robberies, evade police capture and build up your reputation within the murky criminal underbelly of Tasmania.

This is all hypothetical and dastardly fictitious, mind you, but with the many facets of its infrastructure and possibilities for ingenious virtual world-building, why couldn’t our little island state be the setting for a AAA, world-renowned video game?

For a gamer, there’s nothing more satisfying than exploring a beautifully polished world designed with such character and charisma, and, using Rockstar Games for example – the publishers behind the notoriously popular Grand Theft Auto series – their world design is second to none.

Rockstar’s most profitable game, and the second best-selling video game of all time, GTAV, released way back in 2013 and absolutely blew up! In just 24 hours of sales, the game itself generated over US$815 million, breaking multiple Guinness World Records, and by 2018 had gross revenue of six billion dollars.

Attributed to the game’s popularity is its virtual world, San Andreas, a fictional representation of Southern California, and it’s these massive, fluid and well-designed playgrounds that keep player enthralled and immersed in titles like this.

Bringing a game like GTA to Tasmania would greatly benefit us in two distinct ways: providing the already flourishing game development companies down here with collaborations and further funding to assist and/or take the reins on world design elements. And secondly, further showcase Tasmania as an iconic tourism destination, highlighting its culture and creativity by way of the “Video Game Tourism” phenomenon.

Investing in Tasmania’s video game industry would see indie publishers who are already making a name for themselves being able to work alongside the iconic Rockstar Games, while also facilitating a future for top-tier developers in the state.

With the likes of Myriad Game Studios, Secret Lab, Giant Margarita, Forgotten Isle Studios and Tas Game Makers thriving in Tasmania, in attempts to nurture these companies and also encourage and grow future studios to choose our state as a base of operations, using Rockstar as a platform to showcase the state in an incredibly popular video game is the perfect incentive.

In the game’s initial stages of development, building and recreating the virtual world of Tasmania requires many moving parts, from virtual mapping and structural layouts, narrative design, texturing, graphical and visual effects, all the way to publishing and distribution.

This endeavour requires creative, optimistic and passionate people who all aspire to make beautiful content, while also working toward highlighting Tasmania and it’s creative and cultural video game development industry.

Left: map of playable area, San Andreas in Rockstar Games' GTAV. Right: map of Tasmania

Furthermore, tourism can be generated from almost any avenue now. As we see iconic destination like Hobbiton in New Zealand and Dubrovnik from the Game of Thrones series, they all reap the many benefits from their film and television appearances; the same can be said for video games.

Take the Assassin’s Creed series for example; developers Ubisoft design breathtaking worlds, and what’s more, they’re historically accurate representations of gorgeous periods lost in time.

From Renaissance Italy to Ancient Egypt. New England during the American Revolution to Greece suffocating throughout the Peloponnesian War. People specifically seek out these destinations when they travel to countries they’ve seen virtually – learning of an area’s cultural history and all its creative and artistic landmarks.

I myself felt a lot more comfortable navigating London when I visited in 2017, shortly after I’d spent countless hours roaming its virtual streets from the AC game set within the Victorian Era of 1868. To my surprise, a vast majority of landmarks were still intact and all the more breathtaking in real life.

I’m also not alone here, because according to Statista, over 2.6 billion people worldwide enjoy video games of some sort – that’s around one-third of the entire population – and with further funding into growing this industry in Tasmania, the creative arts and tourism industry will help put us on the map.

In saying all this, not only does this opportunity provide gamers from all corners of the world a unique look at what Tasmania is capable of in terms of its creative and digital design, but it also incentivises tourists to stop off and soak in those remarkable and recognisable sights.

Will Boddy is an avid gamer and an advocate for Tasmania’s involvement in the gaming industry.

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