Vid cities in ‘Fortnite’ game

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This is Happy Hamlet, one of the towns on the island where Fortnite plays out.

I’ve written several posts on the Assassin’s Creed video games, which take place in cities like Venice, Florence and London long ago. Recently, the 13-year-old son of a member of the Pro-Urb online discussion group published on his blog a post called “What Do Cities in Fortnite Look Like?” The first series of Fortnite, “Save the World,” had over a million users in the month after its release in July 2017, but the second series, “Battle Royale,” had 125 million users in under a year. The popularity of Fortnite got it on a segment of at least one of the network evening news shows.

A lot of young people cycle through the places in video games. Reaction to the teenager’s blog post came in from Pro-Urbers. One wrote: “I often wonder if the current lack of beautiful architecture is because the more visually talented people go into computer animation, visual effects, and games.” Another wrote: “It’s not that architecture students aren’t visually talented. It’s that they’re taught to abhor the pursuit of that kind of beauty.”

The urbanism of Fortnite is not as sophisticated as that of Assassin’s Creed, but then again, the urbanism of 2019 is not as sophisticated as that of London 150 years ago, let alone Venice and Florence during the Renaissance, or, for that matter, anyplace anywhere before, say, 1950. Fortnite‘s creators are not as interested in its surroundings as in the battles that unfold within. In fact, Fortnite went viral only after it transitioned from an us-against-them (aliens) theme to an everyone-against-everyone theme. A trailer for “Battle Royale” ends with this motto: “Last One Standing Wins!”

So a comparison of Fortnite‘s settings versus those of Assassin’s Creed may be one of apples to oranges. But that does not make it uninteresting. The latest Fortnite series, called “Fortnite: Creative” encourages players to build whatever environments they desire. Let me see if there’s a YouTube video of that. … I did find “Build the Biggest House Challenge in Fortnite: Creative.” It is 19 minutes long but I could not make it past the fourth. I challenge you to try. Especially horrifying are the opening remarks by the players when they announce they are architects. Watch, if you dare!

About David Brussat

This blog was begun in 2009 as a feature of the Providence Journal, where I was on the editorial board and wrote a weekly column of architecture criticism for three decades. Architecture Here and There fights the style wars for classical architecture and against modern architecture, no holds barred. History Press asked me to write and in August 2017 published my first book, "Lost Providence." I am now writing my second book. My freelance writing on architecture and other topics addresses issues of design and culture locally and globally. I am a member of the board of the New England chapter of the Institute of Classical Architecture & Art, which bestowed an Arthur Ross Award on me in 2002. I work from Providence, R.I., where I live with my wife Victoria, my son Billy and our cat Gato. If you would like to employ my writing and editing to improve your work, please email me at my consultancy, dbrussat@gmail.com, or call 401.351.0457. Testimonial: "Your work is so wonderful - you now enter my mind and write what I would have written." - Nikos Salingaros, mathematician at the University of Texas, architectural theorist and author of many books.
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4 Responses to Vid cities in ‘Fortnite’ game

  1. Pingback: Lovely Venice in 8 minutes | Architecture Here and There

  2. Steve says:

    Well said…

    Like

  3. Steve says:

    Your second paragraph is telling and concerning…
    Thank you

    Like

    • I suppose, Steve, you mean the second paragraph, not including the note at the top. And you are right to be concerned. Although firmitas and utilitas are very important, venustas is the first among the legs of this triad. Modern architecture replaces it with a commitment to utility not just above but to the exclusion of all else. While most of our modern architects probably do not subscribe to that consciously, the tools of design that they find acceptable largely exclude the possibility of beauty. So they may not realize themselves that whatever they build contributes to the ugliness of the world. And yet so it is. Such dark and huge blinders they wear!

      Like

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