Game worlds often provide bizarre mirrors to reality such as Katamari Damacy (2004) which tells a tale of consumerism within a messy, seemingly illogical world, assembled from thousands of everyday objects. Moving from the ball to the block, our analysis has peeled apart the expansive world of Minecraft (2011) by highlighting three notable servers that showcase the spatial and social desires of players. Our studies of No Man’s Sky (2016) demonstrate the social spaces and connections that players make to give themselves some form of foothold in a near-infinite universe. Through visual analysis connecting the world of Persona 5 (2016) to real-world Tokyo we can see how the shift between the everyday and supernatural is anchored through domestic and mundane spaces drawn from reality. Finally, our research on Stardew Valley (2016), shows players fleeing the city in favour of a life on the rural homestead, only to end up working the landscape square by square both by virtual hand, and by extending the game through automated farming modifications.
Google frequently uses data from unofficial sources not intended as an official reference, leading to situations where Google legitimizes realtor invented neighborhood rebrandings, or where a typo on a Detroit neighborhood map made by an urban planner as a side project leads to Google Maps almost single handedly renaming the neighborhood “Fiskhorn” to “Fishkorn.”
Google Maps, and the exact coordinates it chooses to place city labels, is an expression of power by Google itself. In this light, OpenStreetMap is a fascinating alternative to examine. It is essentially the Wikipedia of maps; an open collaborative project attempting to provide a freely usable geographic database of the world. On OpenStreetMap, cartographic debates over label placement take place out in the open on the internet rather than privately amongst Google cartographers.