As games and graphics have developed, digital worlds have become more and more complex. In order to convincingly immerse players, game studios are under pressure to create believable locations – whether that’s a post-apocalyptic version of New York, or the towns of Wild West America. When it comes to creating these places, Game urbanist and designer Konstantin Dimopoulous is the man to ask.
Drawing on his academic background – which includes a PhD in urban planning and geography and an MSc in city and regional planning – Dimopoulous brings some essential realism to fictional cities, however fantastic they are. This includes drawing maps, building models, and letting games studios know when buildings are too big, streets are too short and where palaces and dungeons belong. In the wake of funding an illustrated atlas of video games’ imaginary cities, Dimopoulos met with CR to explain how he helps bring fictional worlds to life.
How he ended up as a games urbanist The original plan was to do a proper academic thing in Greece. I finished my PhD, I had quite a few years in urban research, and I was teaching at a university. Then the crisis happened, and the universities had their funding cut off. I started gravitating more towards games, and writing and journalism regarding games, and at some point I set up a small studio with some friends. It didn’t do very well, but it was an interesting experience. Then I realised I could bring the two things together, since nobody seemed to be doing that. It’s proved difficult because you don’t know exactly what to do, and who to follow or be inspired by, but it’s also novel and interesting.