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Games that architects should play for inspiration: Journey, Gris, and Outer Wilds (Part 1)

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We always look for something that will inspire us throughout our design life. That one thing will give us a new perspective or different view. When we try to find our inspiration, we probably look through the internet, architectural books, or existing designs. Not just designs but abstract arts hoping to inspire us in our academic or professional life. Well, what if we told you that you could do that while playing a couple of games? Maybe you can find your style easier in this way.

In this article, we recommend some games that you can play or watch, like a movie. These games are not just an inspiration for your imagination; they are also can be used as an example of different camera angles that can be used in your renderings. For the first list, we choose 3 games, but the list goes on and on.

Let’s just jump into the games!

Journey

The Journey is an indie (independent) adventure game developed by “Thatgamecompany” and directed by Jenova Chen. The game takes place in ruins, and the protagonist aims to reach the top of the mountain however, as you can guess from the title, this game is not about reaching the top; it’s about the journey you will experience.

Moroccan architecture – Journey

Culture tells a story. Throughout the game, you will see many cultural structures, especially Moroccan Architecture, that either collapse or are buried under the sand. At first, you might not understand, although you will start to read a story from structures, this type of narrative style is called “embedded narrative” in game design. That’s where the beauty of architecture comes in. It’s not just about structures and masses; it’s about showing a culture and telling a story about that community. But not just that, plus the came displays a different perspective of understanding the environment. You will always witness communication between the environment and structures when you play. At first, it can be seen as the environment winning the battle, but there is communication between the masses and the environment, a unity.

What’s that different perspective in the environment? In this game, you might see sand as a symbol of decay and surpass; however, when you start to see sand falls, the beauty of sand, and connection with cultural designs, at that moment, you will start to see some environmental elements as beautiful as greenery, start to see sand more friendly rather than decay.

In this world, you will see lots of fabrics as a material. All elements of the game, like bridges, characters, and temples all made of fabric harmoniously.

Before we get to the next game, I want to mention one more thing, the scenery. There will be lots of scenes and camera angles that will take your breath. Lightning, color scheme, composite, and many more make you feel the emotion in the environment.

Gris

Architecture is more than design and 3d modeling. As architects, we also interfered with an illustration. In our diagrams, sketches, or just to focus on a different profession, illustrations are a huge part of our life. That’s why I want to talk about Gris.

Gris is an indie game made by Nomada Studio. The game represents five stages of grief without a single word.

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Architecture and Environment – Gris
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Trees and Geometry – Gris

The beauty of the Gris is that every game environment is designed for a specific emotion. Their color gradings, architectural design, and many other things. Such as, at first, we are at the stage of anger, which everywhere is colored red, and all the structures are ruined and buried under the sand; destruction of anger comes after it. Sometimes you will see geometrically shaped trees and sometimes trees with water instead of leaves. These kinds of small details feed our imagination and design vision.

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Mediterranean Architecture – Gris

Nonetheless, the game itself is a hand-painted brush stroke. In each frame in this game, you will easily notice that each is a drawing, a perfect mixture of watercolor and illustration. After this game came up, many critics popped up, and the players started questioning the connection between game design and art. In my opinion, this game is a work of art.

Outer Wilds

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Who does not wander around the space like there is no tomorrow? Outer Wilds is an action-adventure game developed by Mobius Digital. the game is a master’s thesis by Alex Beachum and turned into a full-production game. But what is it to us? What can we get from a space exploration game?

We have talked about lightning, scenery, culture, emotion in space, and illustration; these are practical things we can achieve. However, we didn’t talk about the philosophy of architecture or the design principle behind what each architect stands for. Sometimes we can learn a couple of things from games; they can even show us a bigger picture that we have forgotten to look at.

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Outer Wilds – Blach Hole as Core

In Outer Wilds, you might not find interesting environmental designs or incredible scenery and lightning. But, in this game, you will find a story. You, as an astronaut, wander around space before the universe dies and try to find out why the universe is dying and how you can stop it. In your journey, you will find another alien species that lived before you; you will witness their architectural style and their technology. But what is important here is the game’s ending, so spoilers alert.

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At the end of the game, you are trying to create a new universe by reaching the Eye of the Universe; when you do, the scenery that you witness tells you that whatever you do, destruction is inevitable, but birth is as well. You do accomplish creating a new universe, but one that is without you. However, whatever you left behind, you left it to the next living species.

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In the end, witnessing the void will make you feel so small that you are irrelevant. Still, when you end up in a forest full of small universes like an apple of trees, camping with your friends in that forest, that will make you say that whatever the scale, whether you are small or big, you are relevant.

That’s what you can get from this game; as architects time to time, we might forget our way. We design like it is irrelevant, but I’m not saying this to make you feel better. You are relevant. Whatever we design and build, we leave them to our next kindle; as architects, we must not forget that. So, games are not just to show technology, visuals, and different architectural styles. They can be for remind us of our principle. Games tell a story that we often forget.

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