Gaming in a massive world

Published 10:48 pm Saturday, June 6, 2015

Playing “The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt” over the weekend led to a pretty startling conclusion: This game is massive.

As in, this game’s physical universe is absolutely huge.

“The Witcher 3” has, by now, become the game to play for the next few months among video game enthusiasts. This is par for the course — “The Witcher” series has always been a remarkable set of RPG games.

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Yet I was struck by how, well, huge this game’s universe is. Spread across multiple realms, “The Witcher 3” follows the game’s protagonist throughout huge expanses of land, numerous villages and cities, and incredible changing environments.

Developers are seizing on this feeling of awe in these so-called open-world RPGs. Vast expanses of land to explore has become the trend over the past decade. It’s not exactly a new concept, but the scale of these games is getting out of control.

Take “Minecraft,” for instance. Spread across a seemingly infinite amount of servers and realms, “Minecraft” has become popular among young gamers because of how open and creative people can be with it. It’s a world unto itself.

Then again, so are games like “Skyrim,” “Grand Theft Auto 5,” “Xenoblade Chronicles,” “Sleeping Dogs,” and even upcoming games like “Final Fantasy XV.”

These worlds are set to expand as time goes on. “No Man’s Sky,” an upcoming space adventure game, promises more than 18 quintillion planets to explore as players eventually find their way to the center of a galaxy.

That’s 18,000,000,000,000,000,000 planets, written out.

With so much to explore, games are fast resembling an artistic reality in which players are overwhelmed by the number of choices given to them. That’s an intriguing and terrifying thought — as games become more interactive art, how will players respond to these alternate realities?

There’s no easy answer, but there’s going to be a lot of questions — and games — to explore as the gaming industry continues to grow.