A thrilling insight into my paper-writing process

I really don’t do mock-up papers; by the time I get all my notes organized, it’s a full-blown first draft and actually pretty close to complete. So here are all my notes for the paper thus far. It’s a fair ways away from a first draft right now–you don’t have to actually read it. But if you want to, here it is. What I do is, I keep adding to the notes and reorganizing them, and like magic, they turn into a nearly finished paper. Then I edit it, and it’s done.

Enjoy these painfully unorganized and terribly written and possibly (for now) incoherent notes!

Designs of RPG maps


Think of a FOCAL POINT or THESIS for this paper!


-Design traits that distinguish them from real life maps

-Maps of the real world are designed. Video game maps are designed as well, but equally designed is the world it reflects.



-Pokémon (1st generation in more detail perhaps, also other generations w/ circles)

Pokémon Kanto

–several versions, similarities and differences, purposes of each (one is radically different than the others—also point out the small and large versions of the game itself which is pretty much a map in itself)

-Final Fantasy I, II, IV (the ones I’ve played)

-Elder Scrolls (mention others)

-recurring elements: circular/rectangular/“shape-shaped” areas of land


-recurrent element: chains of islands that lead back to the mainland on either side!



Musings on the nature of the map of the designed area


Maps of places in a book—say, Lord of the Rings, Narnia, may serve a particular purpose, orienting the reader, but the scattering of locations may or may not be especially important (I do not count The Hunger Games because apparently the author never made a map so far as I know, leading readers to make their own)

The maps of places in a video game are much more critical—they are formulated to create a specialized adventure, not for realistic city-planning or navigation, but to provide certain challenges and quests




[[see if we can find the FF overworlds, or just generalized maps!!]]


I have to thank Jacob the Legend Tipps for posting some maps similar to Pokémon maps and thereby inspiring me to research the maps of Pokémon and other video games.


I haven’t played Pokémon in more than seven years, so I am working with a very incomplete memory.


There are countless video game maps I could examine, but I think I’ll limit myself to a particular genre—role-playing games or RPGs. I will examine some maps in the early games of Pokémon, Final Fantasy, and The Elder Scrolls. I will limit myself to the early installments of each series because those are the only ones I have played—a fact resulting from my habit of always playing games in order, regardless of whether later games actually follow from earlier games. I do this to see the evolution in mechanics and design from one installment to the next.


In the case of Pokémon, Elder Scrolls, and Final Fantasy, the maps do not represent any existing place during any period in history.



-who made the map?

-apparent purpose

-intended audience


-rhetorical methods]]


Are any of them clearly meant as advertisements for the games?


The maps use generalization [[cite methods and pages from Monmonier book!]]

But how to say if it is generalization without a real place? We can use the places from the game. [[maybe provide pictures for comparison—or the Prima strategy map!!]]


The Prima strategy guide map is not a map, but the place itself. Yes, this is as real as the world of Pokémon gets—and it still looks like a map. In the world of 2D video games, the line between place and map of the place becomes blurred.


It is not just the map that is designed for a purpose, but an entire area that is designed.


Final Fantasy’s overworld is rather interesting in that it is the actual location of gameplay—the map is the location.


Different maps have been made for these video game regions—some more path-oriented, others trying to look more realistic. [[show examples]]


Different levels of generalization, based on the map.


Take this realistic map of Kanto, vs. this gameplay-based map of the same region. We can tell the cities are in the same places, but one is much more clearly a map of a video game than the other—it clarifies the paths a player might take.


[[cite Monmonier pages about generalization techniques! Point out the specific techniques the maps use!!!]]


I have only played games in the first two generations of Pokémon, and Final Fantasy I, II, and IV. All of them involved circles.


This is not so much a feature of the maps themselves, but a feature of the entire world designed for the games. The features of the world are manifested in the maps. Unlike real cities, the layout of the cities and routes between them are all designed holistically, solely to set up a specific adventure of the player. This can be seen in the maps by their strange elements we might not see on a map of a real location. Certain features betray the intentions their locations as something other than normal locations.


[[List as many differences as you can between real maps and maps for video games!]]


As I recall, the effect was to have instances where a player would go back to where they started. Also, they could potentially take multiple pathways—I don’t remember whether the effect was linear or multi-branching in Pokémon. In Final Fantasy I, II, and IV, I’m fairly sure the effect was linear, and that a person could return to their starting point in at least some of the circular pathways.


[[is there more than one path a player can take in red/blue??]]


A recurrence we see is a chain of islands that circle back to another area—we don’t see chains of islands in which a person has to travel to the end and then back again. This of course prevents us from having to travel back over the same territory again, which could be tiresome.



In video games, the map is not based on a pre-existing area, but on an area that is designed with particular goals in mind.



The second generation version of the Kanto map [[include it]] includes two roads not present in the original. Indeed, in the original map, it appears that the entire world is available and Johto’s existence is never hinted at.



The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim was released a little while back to great popularity. I have never played any Elder Scrolls game besides The Elder Scrolls I: Arena. Alas, I never finished Arena on account of some game-breaking glitches that I never got around to investigating more thoroughly for solutions or other glitch-free copies.


At any rate, what is relevant is that the map is distinctively different from the maps in Pokémon and Final Fantasy—there is no path, no preordained order of cities for the player to follow. As I recall, the player is free to travel to the cities in any order.


I have read that there is a trend that Japanese RPGs tend to be more linear while American RPGs tend to be more open-ended. I can not confirm the extent of this generalization from these examples, but they do adhere to it.



[[How do different video games use symbols? Similarities, differences?]]


Pokémon is all about the colorful critters, so the detailed map is lively and colorful. The Elder Scrolls is a sort of Middle-Earth world, emphasizing middle-ages style aesthetics, so the map looks old and not very colorful. Final Fantasy’s maps are somewhere in between, but very green and blue—nature-y colors appropriate for a mostly outdoor adventure, similar to but rather more light-hearted than Elder Scrolls.


I have only analyzed maps of fictional places—the possibilities for analysis of video game locations (maps or gameplay areas) based on real locations seem extensive.




Works Cited [[new page]]



[[cite each map!]]


Jacob The Legend Tipps



Racquel examined a map from The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim.


Categories: Uncategorized | 2 Comments

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2 thoughts on “A thrilling insight into my paper-writing process

  1. I must say I love your choice of maps. I personally greatly enjoy Final Fantasy and play it to this day and I remember playing Pokemon when I was younger. I’m sure your paper will be great! Good notes.

    • Unfortunately, I ended up excising the Final Fantasy and Elder Scrolls maps from my paper. I got quite a bit of material written just by analyzing the Kanto map from Pokemon. I’ll post it to the blog shortly.

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