After finishing my first playthrough of Assassin's Creed 2, I was left with a singular thought etched into my mindset. It was not the idea of being an assassin – what it would be like to run across roof troops and leap from inexplicable heights into bails of straw. No, I was left with a strong desire to visit Venice. Whilst playing through the latter stages of the game, I found myself wondering whether the city really is a gorgeous as the game suggests, and just how much Venice has changed since the 16th Century.
Last week, I gave my proposal for a school trip to the fictional city of Rapture. The submerged scenery of the Bioshock games may be aesthetically pleasing, but the true worth of the city is in its educational possibilities. When the city was in its prime, Rapture would have opened the eyes and minds of any student able to visit.
I also asked you to consider the following question:
If you could organise/embark on a school trip to a video game location, where would you go?
This week, my school trip suggestion is similar to the Venice of Assassin's Creed 2; a real city set in another era. The major difference is that this city I have in mind is set in an imagined future rather than the historic past. This location would prove compelling for teachers and students alike. In fact, the futuristic qualities affixed to this true world location add an extra layer of cultural and educational benefit. It must be remembered, as with the previous proposal, that the school visit should take place before the events of the relevant game. As the credits roll, this game location is a little less "student friendly".
A School Trip to Neo-Paris (Remember Me)
Remember Me is an odd game. I tend to imagine the game developers sat around a whiteboard, calling out ideas for their new game. One by one, each participant suggests a brilliant idea, which is added to a list on the board. However, when the time came to decide on one idea, the group faltered. Maybe they didn't want to hurt each other's feelings; maybe they were indecisive; maybe they had spent too long discussing just what shape Nilin's bottom should be and ran out of time. In my opinion, the greatest fault of Remember Me is that there are too many good ideas crammed into one game.
One of those good ideas is the location. Neo-Paris is a fabulous city worthy of a great deal more exploration than the game allowed for. During the extremely linear climbing and clambering sections of the game I often found myself hanging motionless from drainpipes and windowsills. I would press the right analogue stick this way and that to gain a better view of what part of Paris that might be around the corner. At points when faceless guards were attempting to rearrange Nilin's facial features, I found myself staring off into the distance. Do you mind, I'm trying to enjoy this wonderful view of the Basilica...
When trying to argue why students should visit Neo-Paris, I feel as though I could begin and end with one sentence – we should go there because it's Paris – and then do whatever the blogging equivalent of "dropping the mic" actually is. Paris as a place in reality already holds an educational trove. Whether you wish to study Geography, History or Religion, Paris has your needs covered. A choice of museums, exhibitions and institutes have the Arts and Sciences locked down. And that's just the old Paris.
Take the amazing landmarks and locations of present day Paris, and add science fiction veneer. Elegant and elaborate skyscrapers compliment the Eiffel Tower. The Porte Saint-Denis sits amongst cables, circuits and neon lighting, giving it a real Blade Runner feel. St Michel retains is stylishness despite the addition of computer screens and automated services. Whilst Neo-Paris has had a troubled development, a short trip to the futuristic French city would make a fascinating blend of culture and education. Old and new blended together; old and new expression harmonising.
There are some areas of Neo-Paris to avoid. I wouldn't recommend steering into the city slums for more than an hour or so. There are also a few street corners where humanoid androids will offer 'additional services', if you get my drift. But what city doesn't have its rough edges?
The only bad thing I don't like about Neo-Paris is the name. I realise that the Paris before Remember Me was briefly abandoned before big companies and corporations invested in its rebuild. Yet I find it hard to believe that the people in charge decided that what the name 'Paris' needed was the prefix 'Neo' stapled to the front of it. Because they are in the future now, so there.
Is Neo-Paris relevant to your subject?
Art: Classical artwork and architecture melded with the crisp and concise designs of the future. A gorgeous accumulation of art through the ages is available for all art students.
Business Studies: Neo-Paris is a city that was renewed and reinvigorated because of the influence of big business. Students would also learn a great deal from all the various forms of digital advertising. Just don't let them try to climb on the rotating billboards...
Citizenship: Neo-Paris has a difficult past. The French government leaves the city to its own devices in the mid-21st century. By the end of the same century, Paris gets back on its feet. Your students will be able to learn from the locals and government officials just how a city can heal should political and social divides... and appreciate the rifts that still exist.
Design and Technology: it's Paris dude. That is too say, the architecture of the city, both classical and contemporary, is exemplary.
History: Museums, exhibitions and monuments all filled with centuries of information waiting for young eyes and minds. And Neo-Paris has an extra century to study compared to present day Paris, so there's that.
Science: Memorize is a company at the very forefront of memory manipulation. The top scientists there have an acute understanding of the human mind, and the company is able to offer customers new memories, altered recollections or the complete removal of recognition. Find me one young scientist who wouldn't want to learn from these intellectual masters.
A visit to Neo-Paris would depend greatly on the social and political climate at the time of your booking. Threats from Errorists and the increasing demands of 'global climate refugees' might make you think twice about organising a school trip to 21st century, but you mustn't be perturbed. Whilst Remember Me fails to truly embrace the location it occupies, I am convinced that Neo-Paris would make an excellent site for learning. Maybe you disagree? Feel free to weigh in. Perhaps you have your own ideas on gaming worlds that would be great for educational trips. The suggestions so far have been brilliant. I'm especially excited about the archaeological trip to the Forbidden Land of Shadow of the Colossus.
Thank You For Reading.