Students recreate medieval London to win gaming prize

Six students from De Montfort University, Leicester, have won a competition with their 3D rendering of London at the time of the Great Fire

A team of six students from Leicester's De Montfort University (DMU) has won a competition with their detailed rendering of seventeenth-century London streets at the time of the Great Fire of London.

Watch the video to see a fly-past of the world they created, complete with butchers stalls, firewood, muddy streets and flickering street lamps.

Sponsored by game studio Crytek and run in conjunction with the British Library, the Off The Map competition asked students from different universities to create interactive gaming environments based on the library's historic map collection.

The virtual London includes churches, shops, riverside wharves and the Tower of London - as well as the bakery on Pudding Mill Lane where the Great Fire began.

Chelsea Lindsay, Luc Fortenoy, Dan Hargreaves, Joe Dempsey, Daniel Peacock and Dom Ball were announced as the winners at a ceremony on Wednesday, beating entries from 11 other universities. Their entry recreated London streets as they were before the Great Fire in 1666, including Pudding Lane, where the fire began.

The team used Crytek's CryENGINE software - used to make the graphically renowned Crysis series of games - to assembled their winning entry over the course of the year.

Speaking at the ceremony, student Chelsea Lindsay, who is currently completing a year-long internship with BMW in Munich, said: “It’s great that our hard work has paid off and we were successful in getting our concepts across. CryENGINE is a great medium for projecting our creative ideas.

Joe Dempsey added: “We are so pleased to win this award. The Game Art Design course at DMU is fantastic and the competition allowed us to put our creative skills to great use.”

The students used various maps of London in the 1600s to plan their world, as well as visiting museums and surviving architecture from the period in York and Stratford-upon-Avon to get a feel for the necessary style.

Tom Harper, panel judge and curator of cartographic materials at the British Library, said: “Some of these vistas would not look at all out of place as special effects in a Hollywood studio production.

“The haze effect lying over the city is brilliant, and great attention has been given to key features of London Bridge, the wooden structure of Queenshithe on the river, even the glittering window casements.

“I'm really pleased that the Pudding Lane team was able to re-purpose some of the maps from the British Library’s amazing map collection – a storehouse of virtual worlds – in such a considered way.”