Video Games for Architects

Video Games for Architects

In the computer game world of Sim City, an urban developer’s answer to crime is building nine police stations on the same block. If you need more money, you raise taxes by 20% for two years. If your city is not working, you level it with a Godzilla attack. It is this logic that has always separated video games from reality. Rome wasn’t built in an evening after school. As video games strive to become more realistic, businesses are now starting to incorporate their technology in the real world.

HKS, an architectural mega-firm with offices all over the United States, Mexico and the U.K., announced in October 2007 that it had licensed the powerful Unreal Engine 3 for use in future design projects. The image processing engine was designed by Epic Games for it’s extremely popular Unreal video game franchise. It uses polygonal images and a calculated system of physics to create realistic video game scenarios.

According to this article in Business Week, because of its visual appeal, Unreal Engine 3 is helping HKS generate additional revenues of $65,000 to $150,000 per project. HKS clients can now visit each room, walk down hallways and staircases, and fully explore their new environment. Who would have thought that video games would someday be used to design the Dallas Cowboy’s new stadium?

Unreal Engine 3 created this and other virtual models for the Dallas Cowboys
-image courtesy of Architecture.mnp

The Cowboys Organization credited the Unreal engine for producing an exciting, explorable and most importantly, reconfigurable 3D model of the stadium. This allowed designers to fix problems like hanging billboards that block spectator views before the project is finalized. While a majority of major architecture firms plan on sticking with the professional software, the aesthetically appealing results of HKS’s Unreal Engine 3 design projects could have heads turning in the industry.

This isn’t the only example of the video game business merge. On New Year’s Day 2008, Microsoft released its ESP engine, which will allow commercial airline companies and the military to use more accurate and realistic visual flight simulations. The ESP engine is based on the 25-year-old video game Microsoft Flight Simulator. Could creating virtual working models be beneficial for city planners? Even though games like Sim City are mostly unrealistic, is there room for a “realistic” and “professional” video game industry? Is this a sign of a new generation of professionals raised on video games and visual stimulation, or a matter of progress in the industry?

Tags: dallas

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