That may sound like a mountie’s report on the Canadian wilderness, but it’s actually how Rockstar recently promoted Red Dead Redemption 2 – its critically acclaimed game, which transports players to a sprawling and immersive Wild West. Red Dead Redemption 2 features more than 200 species of animal in a variety of habitats, and its record breaking success suggests that authentic natural environments which mimic the ecology of the real world will become a mainstay of future titles.
Video games have grown in scale and complexity to the point where intricate virtual ecosystems of this kind are now possible, with flora and fauna living and behaving in these virtual worlds as they do in ours. As of 2018, the worldwide games industry was estimated to be worth around £100 billion. To put that into perspective, it’s 1.5 times bigger than the movie industry and five times bigger than the music industry, with one in three people on the planet being a gamer. Not bad for an industry that is only around 50 years old.
Alongside the huge financial success of modern games is the ever-growing size of “open-world games”, in which players are free to explore vast and interactive virtual worlds. These virtual environments have gone from simple mono-block representations of landscapes to dynamic and interactive ecosystems. They have plants that can be foraged and a variety of wildlife that demonstrate complex AI-driven behaviour, interacting with the player and each other.