Other Places

Most will agree that video games don't qualify as art. Yet there's an artistry at work in game design that's hard to miss.

Above: "Panau" from Just Cause 2 (2010)

Other Places

The best video games feature impeccable environments that are only glimpsed in between gameplay loads or cutaway scenes.

Above: "Panau" from Just Cause 2 (2010)

Other Places

As writer Andy Kelly demonstrates with his brilliant YouTube video series, that's a real shame.

Above: "Mojave Wasteland" from Fallout: New Vegas (2010)

Other Places

Kelly, aka YouTube user ultrabrilliant, is the videographer behind Other Places, a video series that explores the beautiful worlds of games.

Above: Inside the USG Ishimura from Dead Space (2008)

Other Places

The video combines in-game cutaway movies of CGI-generated landscapes, cities, and towns with lush, lilting scores.


Other Places

Kelly trawled through a dozen or so of the best video games of the last five years to pinch footage for his series.

Above: "Columbia" from BioShock Infinite (2013)

Other Places

The games, which include Mass Effect II, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, and BioShock Infinite, span entirely different genres, from sci-fi to historical fiction RPG's and first-person shooters.

Other Places

Consequently, the locales of Other Places vary wildly, though each is gorgeous in its own way.

Above: "The Island" from Dear Esther (2012)

Other Places

The imagery is finely wrought and delicately animated by sunlight and shadow.

Other Places

When condensed and cut into scored videos, the scenes add up to short and sweet meanderings into strange imagined worlds.

Above: "Empire Bay" form Mafia II (2010)

Other Places

The backdrops and environments are mostly devoid of people, but in some cases, peoploids are deployed to populate the scene and amp up its realism quotient.

Other Places

The short films are odes to what video games can be, that is, when you're not gunning down a rabid pack of zombies or hijacking cars and running over pedestrians.

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See How Beautiful Video Game Worlds Are, Minus The Game Part

The Other Places YouTube series turns the gorgeously rendered landscapes of gaming into short films.

I don’t usually play video games. But when I do, I manically smash the controller buttons every time one of those those pricey cinematic cut-scenes pop up. They’re hardly ever necessary to the gameplay—unless you’re someone who really cares about the deep historic intrigue embedded in BioShock Infinite—and are often just an excuse to show off rendering capabilities, or conversely, compensate for weak in-game graphics.

So it's easy to miss the occasional exquisitely crafted and detail-loaded specimens, especially when you just want to get back to shooting your way through the scenery. Writer Andy Kelly, who operates under the YouTube handle ultrabilliant, has done a great service then for gamers and occasional fans of the genre alike.

In his Other Places video series, he’s compiled the most breathtaking landscapes, architecture, and worlds plucked from game titles such as Mass Effect II and The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim.

The sequences are scored with lilting strings or ominous tones, depending on what the scene calls for. The music enhances the otherworldly beauty of these environments and completes the vivid cinematic experience. In little more than three minutes, your eyes have gobbled up an entire place and time. Subtract the distraction of gameplay egging on your trigger-happy sensibilities and you can stop to appreciate the world that, after all, was created for you.

Dramatic fly-throughs and sun-kissed establishing shots piece together a simple backstory without the use of dialog or characters. In fact, few humanoids are ever glimpsed, save for the odd group of dancing or toiling villagers thrown in to sell the realism of the locales.

But who needs people? The purpose of the series, and what makes it so enjoyable, is that it gives the viewer the chance to explore the immaculately rendered places that you try so hard and in vain to pass or jump hurdles to reach. In that way, they’re the end of the rainbow, so to speak.

But enough chatter. Go on and watch the clips. Enjoy the scenery instead of shooting it up.

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  • Michael Shillingford

    Beautiful pictures, love the YouTube series. Shame the writer of this article doesn't really "get" video games - I think most people would agree that video games ARE art. And cutscenes not relevant to gameplay?! Damn dude, you're missing out on a ton of backstory, beauty and opportunities to be further immersed.

  • Guest

    "Most will agree that video games don't qualify as art."
    And this asshat works for a tech blog? 

  • Daniel Carrapa

    "Most will agree that video games don't qualify as art."

    Regarding this caption that accompanies the first image above, don't even get that debate started. You would be surprised!