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Can computer game landscapes target new audiences for landscape quality assessment?

SWETNAM, Ruth and KORENKO, Jan (2019) Can computer game landscapes target new audiences for landscape quality assessment? Applied Geography. ISSN 0143-6228

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This paper investigates and reflects upon the use of digital game landscapes as tools for visual quality assessment. It explores three distinct but related questions. First, can game landscapes engage the missing “young-voice” in landscape evaluations? Second, is it possible to represent the reality of typical landscape vistas? Third, does familiarity with such virtual reality environments impact on overall landscape ratings? This research draws on empirical work undertaken for the Welsh Government to evaluate the impact of their agri-environmental scheme Glastir on the rural landscapes of Wales. This project employed a new, GIS-enabled method to evaluate visual landscape quality, tested using an online photographic preference survey. Whilst the survey was successful, receiving over 2200 responses, young people (<25 years) were significantly underrepresented in the self-selecting sample.
To address this gap, we stepped out of the real-world landscapes that most geographers are comfortable with, into the virtual landscapes of gaming. Our response was to create a virtual Welsh landscape which could be navigated in games software and manipulated to mimic landscape changes. A second 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. Overall >70% of respondents were highly satisfied with the quality of the landscape visualisations. Of those who had visited rural Wales before, 64% gave a rating of at least 7 out of 10 for its representativeness. No significant differences in overall landscape ratings were observed between the two groups which is helpful as it indicates that gaming familiarity would not preclude the use of such landscape visualisations in public consultation exercises. This paper considers results from this pilot study and discusses the visual accuracy of the Welsh landscape created. Wider methodological issues are outlined alongside some of the interdisciplinary challenges involved in the construction of the landscape visualisation.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Aesthetics; Games Design; Landscapes; Young People; Visual Quality; Wales
Faculty: School of Computing and Digital Technologies > Games and Visual Effects
School of Creative Arts and Engineering > Humanities and Performing Arts
Depositing User: Ruth SWETNAM
Date Deposited: 07 Nov 2019 15:49
Last Modified: 24 Feb 2023 13:57

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