Gaming cartography is far from a lost art, though. As the games have grown larger, so have the worlds the gamemakers created. Take, for example, this map of Cyrodiil (the world of Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion). There are some traditions that you recognize from every map. The Compass Rose, the universally understood colors of land, road, and water. Then there’s the wealth of game information. This is a far cry from my pencil scribblings. Just looking at this map makes me want to visit Dragonclaw Rock.
I am an avid player of the sci-fi MMO Eve Online. If you have never experienced the game, it is worth downloading the trial if only to open up the galaxy map. The galaxy of New Eden contains thousands of player inhabited star systems, and the map allows you to explore these systems in a 3-D environment. The effect is stunning. However, the downside to viewing the galaxy in such a manner is that it’s not easy to convey specific information about the best way to navigate these systems.
This problem is magnified by the use of jump bridges. The star systems of New Eden are all connected by star gates. These connections have been pre-defined by the creators of the game to create superhighways, choke points, and islolated pockets of space which lend character to the galaxy. Jump bridges are player owned structures that provide instantaneous travel between star systems. They are used by player alliances to augment the stargate systems in order to provide a faster method of travel through their regions. Since these jump bridges are controlled by the players and not the game creators, mapping out their locations can be a very difficult process.
|A Player Created Jump Bridge|
|I really want to get from TVN-FM to IMK-K1|
The Northern Coalition jump bridge network is a testament to the complexity of the sandbox CCP has created for it’s players, and this map is a testament to the dedication of the players who inhabit the game. We live in an era where the debate of whether or not games should be considered as art is currently raging, but I do not think that the validity of this piece of cartography as a work of art is in question.