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Professor Sharkey's Bad Game Science: Exactly How Big Are Videogame Worlds?

How big are video game worlds, really? Professor Sharkey investigates.

Article by Scott Sharkey, .

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Comments 26

  • Avatar for Captain-Gonru #1 Captain-Gonru 3 years ago
    Interesting. Though, next time, could you make it a bit more difficult to read? I don't think my eye strain is permanent yet.
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  • Avatar for OctoRocket #2 OctoRocket 3 years ago
    Neat comparison. It always surprises me when I see how small game worlds really are. GTA San Andreas with the fog turned off shows that the entire map is this little thing, with the game building a false sense of scale.
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  • Avatar for Kirinn #3 Kirinn 3 years ago
    The reactions box isn't working for me right now, so I shall comment the reaction instead:

    Fantastic
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  • Avatar for kingaelfric #4 kingaelfric 3 years ago
    Great article. More Sharkey, ALWAYS. I would, however, like to point out one oversight. If we assume that Pac-Man is 6.0221413 x 10^23 km tall, then the mazes from Namco's arcade classic are far and away the largest video game worlds.
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  • Avatar for Daikaiju #5 Daikaiju 3 years ago
    I always accept game worlds as a sort of shorthand version.
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  • Avatar for docexe #6 docexe 3 years ago
    Interesting comparison. It's surprising to see how small these worlds truly are, but then again, videogames are ultimately a computer simulation. Like a magic trick of sorts, it's about creating the illusion of scale and size within these worlds.
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  • Avatar for TotalHenshin #7 TotalHenshin 3 years ago
    @kingaelfric Where does that number come from?

    Glad to see more Sharkey on the site!
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  • Avatar for Da_Beerman #8 Da_Beerman 3 years ago
    someone should make a 1080p version of Zelda where the entire world map is one screen, that'd be amusing.

    fun fact: panau is smaller than Hong Kong by 100 km, meaning those airplanes are pretty slow...Edited September 2014 by Da_Beerman
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  • Avatar for kingaelfric #9 kingaelfric 3 years ago
    @TotalHenshin -- I just eyeballed Pac-Man for size.
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  • Avatar for pdubb #10 pdubb 3 years ago
    Always wondered how "big" the GTA cities were in relation to real cities.
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  • Avatar for percymercado86 #11 percymercado86 3 years ago
    Deleted October 2014 by jeremy.parish
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  • Avatar for pashaveliki #12 pashaveliki 3 years ago
    OH YES!
    Sharkey is back!
    Please don't leave us again.
    (back to listening to old Snarky Sharkey episodes of Retronauts)
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  • Avatar for Scimarad #13 Scimarad 3 years ago
    I think that just goes to show that it's more important how big a game world feels.
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  • Avatar for hal9k #14 hal9k 3 years ago
    @kingaelfric Good post! You made me want to start doing some math to illustrate just how big Avogadro's number (NA = about 6.02*10^23, defined as the number of atoms in 12 g of Carbon-12) really is.

    The speed of light is about 3*10^8 m/s, so a light year is about 9.5*10^12 km. Therefore, if Pac-Man had a diameter of 6.02*10^23 km, his diameter would be 6.4*10^10 or 64 billion light years.

    In comparison, the Milky Way galaxy is 100,000 light years in diameter. As far as I can tell, the diameter of the observable universe is estimated to be 93 billion light years. This is weird, because the universe is only estimated to be a little less than 14 billion years old, so you'd think we could only observe light that far out. But supposedly spacetime itself can expand faster than the speed of light and did so shortly after the Big Bang, during something called the inflationary epoch, and other stuff that's over my head.

    Anyway, Pac-Man would occupy about 2/3 of the universe, which leads to some weird cosmic implications for the game. Pac-Man is all, and all is Pac-Man. Or Ms. Pac-Man, depending on one's affinity for bows.
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  • Avatar for nickn #15 nickn 3 years ago
    Awesome article, it's things like this that I come to Usgamer for.
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  • Avatar for Damman #16 Damman 3 years ago
    @kingaelfric Are you implying that a Pac-man board is actually a macro representation of the a galaxy, and Pac himself is a Galactus style planet muncher?
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  • Avatar for JohnnyBarnstorm #17 JohnnyBarnstorm 3 years ago
    Man. Sharkey needs to make a coffee table book like this. I love it.
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  • Avatar for sp-aceca-se #18 sp-aceca-se 3 years ago
    Yay! More proof that Sharkey still lives! Keep it coming.
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  • Avatar for dreamnaut #19 dreamnaut 3 years ago
    Love hearing from Sharkey, even if it is only periodically.
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  • Avatar for Damman #20 Damman 3 years ago
    I would love to see more game worlds inhibit smaller types of places built to scale. Rather than making a whole city that's the size of a neighborhood, build just a fully realized neighborhood where the whole game takes place. Bully is a game that comes to mind where the school campus and town really seemed to be realistically proportioned.
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  • Avatar for lethalsilicong5 #21 lethalsilicong5 3 years ago
    good article sharkey!
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