Gamers ‘leaving consoles behind to visit Scotland’

Loch Ness features in Tomb Raider III, while Dunottar Castle is a backdrop in Grand Theft Auto. Picture: Contributed
Loch Ness features in Tomb Raider III, while Dunottar Castle is a backdrop in Grand Theft Auto. Picture: Contributed
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Tourism chiefs believe that Scottish landscapes featured in computer games could inspire a new trend of “consolidayers” keen to experience the real thing for themselves.

VisitScotland has identified a new tourism trend – the “consoliday” (console-holiday) – people choosing to experience in real life the landscapes they see virtually before them within the games, or wanting to visit the country in which the game was conceived.

Minecraft fans turned out in their thousands to catch a glimpse of YouTube legend Stampy the Cat in Dundee last month, and with big operators such as STA already offering “gaming adventure tours”, the national tourism organisation is hoping consolidays could be as popular as ‘set-jetting’, where people visit a destination after seeing it in a film.

Scotland features in a number of games such as Grand Theft Auto (the Forth bridges and other destinations), Call of Duty: Ghosts (Stonehaven/Dunnottar Castle), Tomb Raider III (Loch Ness), Project Gotham Racing 2 (Edinburgh), and the Tiger Woods PGA Tour series.

In addition to being inspired by on-screen landscapes, fans also visit Scotland to see where their favourite games were created in cities such as Dundee and Edinburgh.

Dundee is known as the birthplace of the Scottish games industry with some of the world’s biggest titles developed there, including Lemmings and Grand Theft Auto. The city currently hosts numerous design studios and Abertay University is famous for its world-leading video-game development courses.

Edinburgh is the home of Rockstar North – developer of the successful Grand Theft Auto series – and many make the trip to the capital to get their photo taken outside its head office which is now on Holyrood Road, beside the Scottish Parliament. Game development and design will play a significant role in Scotland’s Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design 2016 with events including Dare ProtoPlay – Scotland’s largest video games festival – celebrating innovation, creativity and talent in the industry.

Malcolm Roughead, chief executive of VisitScotland said: “The Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design 2016 is an opportunity to shine a spotlight on Scotland’s fascinating creative achievements. Scotland’s video games industry is a thriving, internationally acclaimed sector which punches well above its weight and is a major contributor to our country’s economy. We are delighted the new consoliday trend has potential, with ­gamers from home and abroad heading to Scotland to discover the landscapes they’ve seen virtually, and also experience where the inspiration for many world famous games began.”

david.oleary@scotsman.com