Welsh visual landscape quality assessments using computer game landscapes

Published: 27 November 2018| Version 2 | DOI: 10.17632/r5txjvs36c.2
Ruth Swetnam


Research Aim: To create a ‘games-enabled’ version of the Welsh landscape and use it to assess whether this virtual world could target under-represented audiences for landscape quality assessment. A survey incorporating images of this virtual landscape was first targeted at computer games design students and then secondly to the wider public, with both groups undertaking the same assessment. Research questions: 1. Can game landscapes engage the missing “young-voice” in landscape evaluations? 2. Is it possible to represent the reality of typical landscape vistas using the Welsh landscape as a case study? 3. Does familiarity with such technologized environments impact on overall landscape ratings? Methods: Firstly the geographer and games designed worked together to create a realistic Welsh games landscape. Using the CryEngine 3.2 as the software within which the landscape was collated. The geographer provided the games designer with a landscape brief, based on an extensive field survey of 300 sites within Wales. A large pohotographic archive was created as part of this field survey and was used to create a photographic archive of key landscape elements. This included topography, geology, flora and livestock as well as cultural components of the landscape such as walls, houses and signage. The final games landscape could be manipulated in the games software - so individual elements coudl be added or removed without disrupting the coherence of the overall image. A range of landscape views were created (for example, forest present, forest removed) which were then incorporated into 3D video fly-throughs. These videos were then embedded in an online preference survey and provided via Qualtrics to two gropus: young game designer students and young geographers/ visitors to the University. They were asked a range of questions about the landscapes and asked to rate them, choose which they preferred as well as to assess the visual qualty of particular components of the landscape. The data takes the form of an excel spreadsheet which contains the raw survey data as well as summarised responses.


Steps to reproduce

See above for detailed methods. The Games landscape is available here https://vimeo.com/album/2810265 for viewing. The photographic preference survey can be constructed in an online survey platform - we used Qualtrics to deliver this anonymously via QR codes and hyperlinks to the website.


Staffordshire University


Geography, Landscape Analysis, Computer Game