10 Places in Houston That Are Perfect Settings for a Video Game

Tunnel under the Houston Arboretum
Tunnel under the Houston Arboretum
Photo by Jef Rouner

As the Houston Press’s current game reviewer and expert, I tend to think about gaming rather constantly, even when doing other things. If I see a differently colored bit of a wall, I actively have to suppress the urge to hit it in case there’s a secret passage. I think in dialogue trees when I talk to people. I award myself experience points when I complete basic tasks (I’m a Level 14 Jef, thanks for asking).

So whenever I’m out and about in Houston, I am usually thinking what type of game the area I’m in would be. There are some really first-rate locations that would make awesome game settings. For instance…

10. Houston Arboretum & Nature Center
4501 Woodway
Genre: Horror

Walking through the trees at the Arboretum already makes me want to pin drawings of the Slenderman to things and see how many people I can freak out. Plus, a lot of the trails feel as if they’re right out of the first level of Deadly Premonition. It’s a really fun place to spend an afternoon, but, speaking from personal experience, it’s easier to get lost and a little freaked out than you may think. Especially if you venture through the tunnels under Woodway.

9. Elder Street Artist Lofts
1101 Elder
Genre: Horror/Adventure

The former Jefferson Davis Hospital is now home to a thriving community of artists, but having been inside, I can tell you it is still a pretty creepy-feeling place. Back before it was renovated, sneaking into the abandoned hospital was something of a rite of passage for macabre teenagers. It’s a beautiful location, though, and still used for the occasional horror movie. I imagine a ghost or serial killer investigation game similar to Life Is Strange would fit perfectly. The roof would make for a fitting final location with its superb view of the city. 

It kind of looks like Rapture from the outside, too.
It kind of looks like Rapture from the outside, too.

8. Memorial Hermann – Texas Medical Center
6411 Fannin
Genre: Shooter

Being the husband of a nurse, I’ve been inside a lot of hospitals, and if I had to pick one that made me feel like I was in Rapture from Bioshock, it would definitely be this one. It’s a grand combination of open spaces, narrow corridors, mazes and conflicting architecture designs that would lend itself well to, say, a nice zombie shooter. Plus, the Life Flight launching pad is perfect for a triumphant getaway sequence reminiscent of the first Resident Evil.

7. Numbers Night Club
300 Westheimer
Genre: Rhythm / Dating Simulator

Goth dancing is one of those really unique styles that few people seem to know anything about, although I thoroughly recommend wasting a day watching some of it on YouTube sometime. A rhythm game dance-off set to Numbers goth standards like Covenant’s “Call the Ships to Port” or And Ones’s “Military Fashion Show” would be extremely fun for those of us who remember titles like Bust a Groove. A gothic dating simulator would serve as a minigame as you win over prospective mates with cloves, ankhs, boots and your sick dance moves. 

6. The Bayous
Various
Genre: Racing Combat

One of the old nicknames for Houston was Baghdad on the Bayou. Ten major waterways wind their paths through the city, and that means ten levels for a boat-racing game. Cruise down White Oak Bayou trying to blow your opponents out of the water as you pass a concert at Fitzgerald’s, or head down Buffalo Bayou, where sharks that have escaped from the Downtown Aquarium attack your vessel. You could even use the Port of Houston as an open fighting arena for a Twisted Metal-style free-for-all. 



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