The video games we play are made by people who live and work around the world. But how often do we think about that aspect of this most international of collaborative art forms? I made some maps. I thought it might help.
Here, for example, are the locations of the development studios (down to the city; no street addresses) behind the most recent big-budget Assassin's Creed game, Assassin's Creed Unity. The lead studio, Ubisoft Montreal is in red.
Click the pulldown menu to see the full list of cities.
Ubisoft, a French company that sells heaps of games in the US, is known for their multi-studio, globe-spanning development projects. Here's the breakdown for another big one from them, last year's surprisingly good Assassin's Creed Rogue (the lead dev studio for this one is in Sofia, Bulgaria).
One of the cool things about game development is that even small teams can be located all over the map and still collaborate.
Let's look at Discord Games, a small team working on the upcoming action-platformer-exploration game Chasm. The top people on Chasm are in Atlanta and Baltimore, with their musician working out of Pittsburgh and artists in San Mateo and Sao Paulo.
I recently got a demo of the upcoming brawler Cuphead (the game that looks like 1930s cartoons). I probably shouldn't have been surprised when one of the StudioMDHR developers who is working on the game told me that StudioMDHR is actually located all over the map -- mostly all over the Canadian and U.S. map.
Cuphead is led by brothers, one based in Oakville, Ontario, the other in Regina Saskatchwan. The game's composer and background artist are in Toronto, the inker is in Oakville, the digital painter in Saskatoon and the animators are in Vancouver, Oakland and New York. The game's "inbetween artist" (great title!) is in San Francisco.
Your favourite movies might all be some the same few countries, but doubtless your favourite games are from many more. Tetris brought us Russian style. Pokémon, among thousands of games before and after it, brought us influence from Japan. Sim City was California. Populous was England. Flappy Bird came from Vietnam, Minecraft from Sweden. Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat, the Pepsi and Coke of fighting games? They were born in Osaka and Chicago.
These days, whether we think about it or not, gamers absorb a breadth of international influence that is at least a shade more arthouse than multiplex. It may not always show up in the finished games, but we're playing stuff that's been made all over the globe. Take the Xbox One launch, for example. The system launched in late 2013 with well over a dozen games, eight of which were published by Microsoft but developed by studios headquartered around the world.
Apologies for the low-res icons here, but take a look at the international origins of the Xbox One's first-party launch games:
And here's a map of the studios behind the first-party PlayStation 4 launch games. Fewer games, but still far-flung.
I could go on, but I would rather that you did!
Go ahead. Make a video game map of your own. You can do it at this link in Google maps. Add them to the comments below or send them to me. If I get enough cool ones, I'll highlight them on the site.