Video game levels that would be cool to copy in real cities

I'm an urban planner and designer that recently started listening to the show. I was inspired by one of your conversations about 3D platformers, and was thinking what is a city but an open world platform game. So, what level designs could be good models for designing cities, specifically public spaces, parks, squares, etc?

ask Keita Takahashi

If you haven't done so already, I would recommend taking a virtual stroll around the main hub areas in Monster Hunter: World. The game as a whole was a bit overwhelming for me at first (as a new player to the series) but the layout of these areas became second nature pretty quickly. There are so many points of interest that need to be visited in between hunts (vendors, smithy, supply box, handler, cantina just to name a few) so it is very important that the space is easily readable and navigable. They accomplish this pretty well–most areas have fun and visually interesting design and the developers made very good use of vertical space. I think this was optimized even moreso in the Iceborne expansion. On top of all this, it helps that the spaces are just enjoyable to live in thanks to the music and visual spectacle.

I have an example of how something like a real world platform game design would go wrong:

the "face fountains" in downtown chicago

two thirty foot high video art installations that occasionally spit water onto the ground. Seems kind of fun, however in practice spreading a half inch deep layer of water over a slate stone plaza turns out to be a bad idea, and this particular place is notorious at nearby emergency rooms

@yeso#18417 lol I was there almost exactly a year ago and took this photo…what a weird dystopian vibe


lol they need to turn that shit off when it’s january

I don‘t think a city is anything like an open-world platform game. I guess if in Mario you couldn’t jump or run and had to use escalators and elevators and public transport instead.

Iconic. Could be a raised terrace over a busy intersection with minimal changes.



I'm not sure if an explicitly dystopian city is quite the right answer to this, but one that has always stuck with me is Syndicate and its layers of walkways, gantries and rooftops. The idea of having so much stuff happening above street level seemed like an incredibly futuristic idea when I played this in about 1995.


I had no idea at the time that real places were sometimes built like this as well. Many years later I went to Tokyo for the first time and the centre of Tachikawa gave me very similar vibes.


I always find places with this kind of verticality appealing. Places that are layered like this, or places that grow up a hill or down a valley have lots of interesting overlooks and unexpected sights. There's probably a level design lesson there!