Video games bring worlds to life. How else can you scoot around the moon on a jet bike, or visit the mysterious and mammoth monoliths of the Halo universe? Prior to video games being developed, we had to use our imaginations, or simply watch others play out our fantasies on the big screen, in movies like Star Wars.
But these days, video game developers have started looking right back at reality for inspiration. Yes, you can still experience horrifying visions of the future in games like The Last of Us and Fallout 4 — but you can also go see some of your favorite virtual haunts in person. In some cases, they may be a small road trip away.
Several blockbuster games from recent years have used our very own modern cities as settings, and as a result, you can take a trip to virtual manifestations of actual, real-life locations. Take Grand Theft Auto V, for example, which is a living, virtual representation of Los Angeles and southern California. You can go to Hollywood (Vinewood), visit the Salton Sea, and cruise the Sunset Strip.
But that’s only one modern example — there are many others. And for true gamers, it may be worth it to put down the controller and get some fresh air, all while taking a video game road trip. We’ve cherry-picked a handful of examples of the places you can go in see in real life, all from some of the past few years’ biggest games. From Los Angeles to Boston, here are five real places from your favorite video games that you can go see, in person, right now.
1. Goodsprings, Nev. – Fallout: New Vegas
Prior to Fallout: New Vegas’ release in 2010, very few people around America had probably heard of Goodsprings, Nev. — or many of the other locations featured in the game. But it exists and is a tiny ghost town that you can go see for yourself. Many of the businesses and buildings in the virtual Goodsprings are there too. You can also check out places like Primm, Novac, and of course, the major features of Vegas itself. You don’t need to be a courier, just explore the area outside of Las Vegas the next time a buddy has a bachelor party lined up.
2. Salvation Mountain, Calif. – Grand Theft Auto V
Salvation Mountain is a strange place. A hippie enclave, it’s basically a hillside that has been transformed into a giant work of art, espousing all kinds of religious imagery and messages. It’s located in Niland, Calif., near the Salton Sea — and you can also go see it while stalking San Andreas in Grand Theft Auto V. You’ll see in the video below that Salvation Mountain can be explored in its entirety in the game, and there’s even an Easter egg for the completionist inside of you, if you’re willing to look.
3. Centralia, Pa. – Silent Hill
Silent Hill — though more than a decade and a half old by now — has slowly but surely become one of the most famous horror games in video game history. It’s spawned several sequels, and even a couple of film adaptations. The game takes place in a creepy, mist-shrouded town which is inspired by an actual place: Centralia, Pa. The video below gives you a condensed tour of Centralia, which has been mostly abandoned for generations now after an underground coal mine caught fire. That fire never went out, and continues to burn to this day.
It’s creepy, and it’s real.
4. Boston’s Old State House – Assassin’s Creed III
The Assassin’s Creed series allows gamers to explore historical versions of modern cities. That includes North American cities like New York, Boston, Nassau, and Kingston, and European cities like Rome and Paris — even the Middle East. But one place easily identifiable by most New Englanders is the Old State House, located in Boston, which you can climb and explore in Assassin’s Creed III. As Haytham or Connor, the Old State House can be found during your travels around Boston, helping Sam Adams and Paul Revere. It’s also the site of the infamous Boston Massacre, which you witness in the game.
3. Millennium Park, Chicago – Watch Dogs
Watch Dogs was a letdown for a lot of people, but it still brought the city of Chicago to life on the small screen. The game allows players to take on the role of a computer hacker and vigilante, caught up in a deadly cat-and-mouse game with his enemies who are out to kill him. In the fictionalized version of Chicago, you can go just about everywhere, and check out all of the cities famous locations. That includes Millennium Park, with its famous Cloud Gate sculpture — often referred to as ‘the Bean’. Check out the Millennium Park tour in the game below.
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