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The real world within video games

Tourism boards are increasingly taking to video games in a move to attract 2.5 billion gamers worldwide, with India alone accounting for 365 million gamers.

July 31, 2021 / 09:06 AM IST
From 'Wrath of the Druids', developed by Tourism Ireland and Ubisoft. According to Irish mythology Armagh was one of the great royal sites of Gaelic Ireland and the capital of Ulster.

From 'Wrath of the Druids', developed by Tourism Ireland and Ubisoft. According to Irish mythology Armagh was one of the great royal sites of Gaelic Ireland and the capital of Ulster.


If Italy is on your travel bucket list, you don't have to wait to get a taste. No, we don't mean travel while the Covid pandemic is still ongoing.

For the moment, ignore the flight ticket, spurn the strolleys and shun the masks and sanitisers. The Director General of Civil Aviation or DGCA has any way extended the ban on international flights till August 31, 2021.

Instead, get a gaming console, strike up a friendship with Elio, the old lighthouse keeper, catch some sparks while a soprano hits the octave, and tour through Italy, the Land of Wonders.

The Italian ministry of foreign affairs (MFA) recently launched ITALY. Land of Wonders, a video game to  promote tourism and bring Italian art, music and culture to the world.

Downloadable for free, it is available for iOS and Android, smartphone and tablet, via italiana.esteri.it

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Elio is the old lighthouse keeper who, every morning, with the help of the 20 sparks he retrieved the night before from the 20 regions of Italy, lights up the sun that will shine bright over the country.

The game starts at sunset, Elio – a reference to Helios, the sun god of ancient Greek mythology – is looking for an assistant who can help him complete his arduous task.

He summons the mysterious character outside the lighthouse: the player, who is drawn into a night adventure around Italy to retrieve 20 sparks, light up the lighthouse and ensure the sun shines again.

During their journey, the players will meet 5 Guardians, who will help them to discover Nature, Cuisine, Art, Performance and Design, the 5 main sectors of the Italian cultural heritage.

Italy Land of Wonders VideoGame 2 Leaning Tower of Pisa

At the end of the journey, a surprise awaits the players: they will take Elio’s place, symbolically becoming the new Lighthouse Keeper, with a mission to protect the country’s treasures.

First, however, they will need to pass no less than 100 puzzle game levels, each one featuring a 3D reconstruction of an iconic Italian landmark and discover, step by step, the coast and mountains, cities and castles, traditions and myths of the country.

From opera to baroque to famous movie soundtracks, the original scores in the video game are inspired by the great Italian classics.

With a collection of 600 articles, stories, news and fun facts, the video game also serves as a travel guide. The game is also an informative learning tool for schools that teach Italian as a foreign language.

Ireland: Earlier this year, Tourism Ireland tied up with Ubisoft (creators of Assassin's Creed Valhalla) to promote not only Ireland's landscapes and castles, but also its culture and folklore through its game Wrath of the Druids.

The game features a vividly re-created Ireland, with famous landmarks such as the Giant’s Causeway, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, in County Antrim; the Hill of Tara in County Meath; the mountain of Ben Bulben in County Sligo; and the city of Dublin starring alongside the assassins.

Playing as Eivor, the fierce leader of a Viking clan, gamers must make their way through Ireland’s haunted forests and stunning backdrops while gaining influence among Gaelic kings.

Gamers also have the chance to conquer ringforts, circular fortified settlements designed to keep raiders out and animals in. More than 45,000 ringforts of which still survive in Ireland today.

The story takes place about 80 years after the first Viking raid on Ireland and four decades after the Vikings first settled Dublin. At the time of the Vikings, Dublin was a bustling trading port, and so the city, filled with enemies and allies, is a central hub in the game.

St Patricks Cathedral stands on the hill from which the City of Armagh derives its name - Ard Macha; the hill of Macha. Less than half a mile away, on the adjoining hill, is our sister St Patrick's Roman Catholic Cathedral. In the year 445, according to tradition, St Patrick built a stone church on a hill, then called Druimsailech [the ridge of sallows]. This was granted to him by the local chieftain, Daire. In 447 St Patrick ordained that Armagh should have pre-eminence over all the churches of Ireland, a position which it holds to this day. As can be seen from a list in a panel on the north-west wall, Armagh has, since Patrick, first Bishop of Armagh, an unbroken succession of, first, bishops and abbots - these two roles often being vested in the same person - and, since Celsus in 1106, archbishops of Armagh. When the Acts of Supremacy of 1536 and 1560 renounced the jurisdiction of the Pope over the English and Irish churches, and proclaimed the monarch as, initially, Supreme Head on Earth and, later, supreme Governor of the Churches of England and Ireland, the Irish episcopate followed divergent lines, the Church of Ireland marking its succession from Adam Loftus and the Roman Catholics from Richard Creagh. Today's cathedral contains a number of memorials to previous archbishops. Although the building has been renovated many times, even as recently as 2004, the basic shape of the Cathedral is still as conceived by Archbishop O'Scanlon in the twelfth century.¬† It is a modest building with interesting monuments and an 11th-century carved stone high cross. Ireland's St Patrick's Cathedral (Armagh) has been featured in the 'Wrath of Druids'.Catalonia: In 2018, Catalonia, a Spanish region with a historically rich past, launched Legends of Catalonia Land of Barcelona, a video game created specifically to promote a destination.

The video game features internationally renowned Catalan personalities: Carles Puyol, an acclaimed FC Barcelona football player; Edurne Pasaban, mountaineer, and famous restaurateurs the Roca brothers. And, the action takes place at iconic sights in Catalonia, such as Tarragona’s Roman amphitheatre, Lleida’s old cathedral, the mountain range of Montserrat, Dali’s Cadaques, Barcelona’s Sant Antoni market and the Sagrada Familia church.

The game lasts 50 minutes and is available in three languages: Catalan, Spanish and English. It can be downloaded for free at http://www.LegendsofCatalonia.com.

Ancient Greece: In 2019, Assassin Creed’s publisher introduced virtual tours about ancient Greece through the universe of Assassin's Creed Odyssey. Available on YouTube, it is called Assassin's Creed: Discovery Tour, Ancient Greece.

Good to know:

  • Available for free in English, Italy, Land of Wonders, can be downloaded on iOS and Android, smartphone and tablet, via esteri.it. Watch the trailer on: https://vimeo.com/571998021/9afdc50077

  • Plan a trip to Ireland on www.ireland.com
Preeti Verma Lal is a Goa-based freelance writer/photographer.

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