The Absurd Physics of World Maps

Pick an RPG. Chances are, you’ll have a boat. Or an airship. Or maybe even a dragon. If you sail/fly/soar in one direction long enough, you’ll eventually wrap around to the opposite end of the map. This is all very logical, considering that those of us here on Earth live on a spherical world.

That is, if you’re traveling east or west.

Do you know what happens if you travel far enough north, in that place, what’s it called… oh yes, reality? Here’s a hint: you do not, in fact, end up mysteriously in the southern polar region of the planet. Not unless you traveled north for a nice long while, so long that you actually then started heading south, and just kept on keeping on for a very, very, very long time.

And yet in any RPG with an overworld map (hey, that’s like any RPG… more or less), if you go north, you will wrap around into the southern hemisphere of the map. And if you head northeast, you will wrap around onto the southwestern portion of the map, and if you travel southeast… exactly. Northwest!

This means one of two things. One, that flat overworld map we see in whatever corner of our television should actually fold backwards until each of the four corners touch in the back, and then I suppose we blow it up like some sort of ill conceived balloon. So, we aren’t actually traveling north or south when we think we are – how clever!

Or two, whoever initially designed RPG world maps didn’t actually think about how actual maps depict our actual world (actually), and each successive RPG has just gone along with that first, dimensional-bending design.

…this is why games like Morrowind and Dragon Age satisfy me in ways that Final Fantasy never can.

PS: Are you freaking kidding me? I can’t find an appropriately licensed picture of an RPG world map for this? …brutal.


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