Video games allow their players to travel to worlds that most people think of as totally imaginary. After all, nowadays technology allows a game designer to create an entire world that is limited only by how many DVDs they want to put it on and how much downloadable content they want to create. The following are a few examples of how now only can video game worlds be real, but in some cases they already exist and can potentially be visited by ordinary people.
National Ignition Facility
Portal takes place in an insanely large facility doing science that borders on sorcery, and this is the kind of thing that most people would assume can't be visited in real life. This is where the National Ignition Facility in Livermore, California comes in. The place is massive, features tons of clean lines, and looks like it should feature a wise cracking computer making jokes at the expense of whomever walks in.
Where the matter really gets interesting is the science that's going on in the Facility. While they aren't constructing Portal guns, they are attempting to create tiny suns by shooting massively powerful lasers at hydrogen atoms and super heating them to 100 million degrees Kelvin. This may or may not qualify as a proper death ray, but it certainly works to the high tech level found in Portal.
Fallout 3 features an apocalyptic, scarred wasteland where Washington, D.C. used to be. While you can't bring about the apocalypse without a lot of permits and most likely being taken down by the FBI, you can travel to downtown D.C. and check out a lot of historical sites that are still in good condition. While it could be a long time before the sites you can see in Fallout end up in ruins, the similarities are definitely there.
For a special kind of odd feeling, play the game for several hours straight and run around in the ruins before you visit the sites as they exist today. Walking around the real world's far more positive view of the area, it can be unnerving to feel the "premonition" of the buildings being heavily damaged or destroyed. While the Lincoln Memorial is somewhat like a tombstone in its memorial quality, thinking of it well maintained and brightly lit is odd after seeing it semi-crushed.
The Roman Colosseum in Rome has been used as many things. Formerly pointed to by a massive Colossus possibly made out of bronze, this massive venue has seen gladiators, naval battle recreations, animal hunts, and even been housing for poor people after the Roman empire fell. However, it has also been the scene of a video game from the Assassin's Creed series.
In Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood, you can visit an artistic interpretation of what the Colosseum looked like during its heyday. Loaded down with bright marble and all manner of precisely carved statuary, in the days of old, this was a truly remarkable site. Play the game and then visit the remains of this ancient stadium and you might just feel as if you've come home. Be warned -- you might feel old at that point.
If you've ever played Goldeneye, you undoubtedly remember the first warm weather level onboard a cruise ship. While most cruises won't involve espionage or facing off in armed combat, the warmth and the excitement of the game are alive and well aboard ships of this nature. But the feeling if you've recently played the game will still be with you to some extent as you walk around the decks.
Where things get very interesting is when you see telltale signs of spydom such as the helicopter landing pads that many ships have, the bar areas where your shaken but unstirred vodka martinis spring from and the balconies that inevitably turn into impromptu sniper nests. Depending on how shell-shocked you are by being 007, the effect can be unnerving.
There are a lot of fantasy gamers, Ren fair participants and general medieval or Tolkien enthusiasts who would kill to visit Middle Earth, with or without the chance to actually meet their favorite characters. While a lot of people may think that the areas depicted in the Lord of the Rings trilogy don't exist in this world, those folks would be mistaken. Nearly every landform depicted in the novels exists in the area around Birmingham.
Tolkien even made a subtle dig against industry and its irresponsible habit of polluting the area by creating Mordor out of a place to the Northwest called the Black Country. With numerous iron foundries, coal mines and other signs of what used to be called progress, the air there was black most of the time and the ground was clad in a perpetual dusk that set an unnerving mood. If that's your idea of a good place to visit, you can do just that.
Danvers State Hospital
If you've played a number of different games in which you inexplicably go into a haunted mansion, hospital, insane asylum or other place that you'd only want to visit in a video game, you know the feeling of dread as you approach the front entrance. Like the beginning of the TV series Tales from the Crypt, the foreboding nature of such an area just screams at you to leave -- and sometimes apparitions scream even worse things.
Most recently this has been the basic setting for Batman: Arkham Asylum. While you fight your way through the place as Batman, in the real world Danvers was actually the inspiration for this asylum. In the early 20th century, H.P. Lovecraft wrote of an asylum in Arkham, Massachusetts based on this very complex. Filled with twisting hallways, dank tunnels and plenty of medical areas that could easily house any macabre scene you can imagine, Danvers is the kind of place you should only visit in the daytime.
Video games are often based on real life places, and the above are some real places that seem to come straight out of a game