Sunday, July 11, 2010

My photos in video game form

Many of you have already probably seen this on Facebook or elsewhere, but for those who haven't I'll explain one of the more interesting uses of my photography lately.

I've been a car racing fan since I was a youngster and for relaxation play racing simulation games on my computer. It's also much easier on the pocketbook that way than having a real race car. A few years ago I remembered one of my teenage dreams about holding an actual auto race on the twisting, turning roads of the Black Hills of South Dakota. So I contacted a video game artist in Chicago who creates race tracks for the video game "Nascar Racing 2003."

"Rushmore Scenic Byway" was born using my photography to create much of the scenery and "trackside objects." Everything on the horizon that players see while racing is a collection of my photographs blended into a seamless 360 degree panoramic. Most of the buildings, wildlife, and billboards found around the track are also my work.

It took a year and a half of trying, testing, changing our minds and tweaking to get the track where we felt it was ready for release to the video gaming community.

We also decided to give the track a retro 1950s-era feel, so I tried to find attractions and scenery appropriate to that time period in the Black Hills. Things like this sign for Thunderhead Underground Falls that is still in use popped out at me. We added the sign painter sprucing it up for the game.

It's been a very fun project and one that subtly also accomplishes my full time job duty - promoting travel to South Dakota. Since it's release on July 2, the track has been downloaded by over 600 video game racers and we expect many more. This isn't a one-time viewing for these folks, either. They will race around the track many times, some in weekly leagues just like a bowling or softball league. That's a lot of people repeatedly seeing South Dakota scenery and attractions as they participate in their hobby.

You can watch a video of racing action on the track here:

Rushmore Scenic Byway has been viewed on over 1,000 times and the track also has it's own Facebook page.

So for photographers looking for new and different places to use your work, check out all the possibilities. You never know what fun project might come along.

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