The Cities Where The Most Video Games Are Set

One of the best things about video games is the opportunity to escape from reality for a little while. Indeed, one British survey found that, for over a third of gamers, that’s the main reason to play. But while some video games are set in mystical worlds packed with otherworldly characters, cosmic danger and magical abilities, others are set a lot closer to home.

It’s no surprise that so many video games are set in real locations on Earth (or a place awfully like them); from the densest of dangerous jungles to the tightly woven streets of a metropolis, there’s likely a fitting landscape and climate somewhere on the planet to suit any game developer’s story.

But any gamer worth their salt will know that — despite the wealth of cities, deserts, beachscapes and rolling hills around the world to draw from — some real-life locations seem to be irresistible to developers, appearing time and time again in video games.

So which real-life cities and countries are the most commonly featured in video games?

Guide Strats decided to find out. We retrieved the number of video games that appear on each location’s relevant Wikipedia page (e.g., “Video games set in Tokyo”), making for a total of 15,378 games. We combined each list of games per location and per parent location and removed duplicated video game titles.

Key Findings

  • With 2,516 games, the United States is the top video game setting worldwide, followed by Japan (860 games) and Canada (672 games).
  • New York is the city where the most video games are set (479 games), and London comes top in Europe (238 games).
  • Other U.S. cities that feature frequently in video games are Los Angeles (179 games), San Francisco (145 games) and Las Vegas (84 games).
  • With 212 games, Tokyo leads as the most popular setting for video games in Asia and Oceania, followed by Hong Kong (105 games) and Shanghai (49 games).

New York and California Are the Most Popular Places in the U.S. For Video Games to Be Set

New York is the setting of more video games (501) than any other state, no doubt because of New York City’s overwhelming popularity as a backdrop (more on that later…). After the Empire State comes California, having appeared in 482 video games, including Cyberpunk 2077, which lands players in the fictional Free State of Northern California.

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Florida is popular, too, appearing in 124 games. In particular, the Grand Theft Auto series has a love affair with the Sunshine State; not only is GTA: Vice City (2002) set in a fictional version of Miami, but the much-anticipated sixth game in the series will be set in Leonida, a state inspired by Florida.

On a city level, New York comes out on top, appearing 479 times in video games. Among the most popular Big Apple-based video games in recent years is Marvel’s Spider-Man (2018), which lets players swing around New York’s skyscrapers and web-sling to their heart’s content.

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Los Angeles (179 games) and San Francisco (145 games) come next, respectively featured in the games LA Noire (2011) and Horizon: Forbidden West (2022). After that comes Las Vegas, the glitzy backdrop of Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six: Vegas. “The environments are nicely detailed, featuring exploding slot machines,” writes IGN’s Jonathan Miller about the 2006 game. “From the chopper, you can spot most of the Sin City’s largest casinos, like Paris and the Mirage.”

After the United States, Japan Appears in More Video Games Than Any Other Country

From peaceful beaches to bustling cities, when it comes to landscapes, the U.S. has got it all. It’s no wonder, then, that so many video games are set in the United States — 2,516 to be exact, a count higher than any other country in the world. Games set in the U.S. include Red Dead Redemption 2 (2018), the third installment in the Red Dead Series and one of the best-selling video games ever made.

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Japan is the most popular setting after the U.S., appearing in 860 games, among them the critically acclaimed Ōkami (2006), an action-adventure that draws from Japanese mythology, and the Ghost Of Tsushima (2020), set during the first Mongol invasion of Japan.

Canada comes next (672 games), the harsh, snowy wilderness of which serves as the backdrop for survival game The Long Dark (2017).

London, Tokyo and Paris Among the Top Global Cities That Feature in Video Games

After New York City, London appears in more games (238) than any other city in the world. Various titles see London’s streets turned into full-throttle racetracks or Dystopian wastelands, with the city’s Docklands (host to Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3) offering ample opportunities for climbing, jumping and rifling through crates against a backdrop of famous buildings.

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Tokyo ranks next (212 games), the setting of the Yakuza series of games and the real-life home of Akihabara (or Electric Town), one of the world’s best-known capitals for gaming culture.

Paris also places highly (128 games) and is used as a backdrop for Assassin’s Creed: Unity (2014).

Barcelona, Rome and Venice Among Europe’s Most Commonly Featured Cities in Video Games

In Europe, the most popular city for video games to be set (after London and Paris) is Barcelona, which appears in 60 games. One such game is GoldenEye 007, the 2010 remake of the smash-hit 1997 Nintendo 64 game of the same name, which sees James Bond tackle bad guys in a Barcelona nightclub.

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The European settings of some games are so realistic that older generations can’t help but be enthralled by them. In one Reddit thread, a user writes: “My grandparents love Venice [featured in 32 games] so I let them play Assassin’s Creed 2. They took it in turns to just row a gondola around for over an hour.”

Another Redditor replies: “I had a similar experience with my dad in AC: Brotherhood. My parents had recently been to Rome [featured in 58 games]. My dad came in while I was [messing] around on the hill above the Colosseum and he was flabbergasted that you could actually run around Rome in a video game. I spent the next half hour fast traveling to all the highlights … him laughing and amazed that all this was in a video game.”

Tokyo Leads as Asia and Oceania’s Most Popular City to Appear in Games

By far, Tokyo is the most popular Asian or Oceanian city for video games to be set (212 games), with its wide streets, labyrinthine alleys and sleek neon lights making it perfect for driving games (Tokyo Xtreme Racer 3), action-adventures (Ghostwire: Tokyo) and shooters (World War Z).

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Hong Kong ranks next, the setting of 105 games, including Shenmue 2 (2001), the sequel to one of the most expensive video games ever made. Other games are heavily influenced by the Chinese city, like Stray, which has players control a cat as it makes its way around a metropolis inspired by the Kowloon Walled City.

Meanwhile, Dubai comes sixth, the backdrop of some 23 games, among them Hitman 3 (2021), which places players in a fictionalized version of Dubai’s towering Burj Khalifa skyscraper.

Realism in Video Games

It’s clear that realism is important in games. That goes for a game’s graphics and its historical accuracy: a survey of Assassin’s Creed players found that over half believed that game developers shouldn’t make big changes to real historical records. (Luckily for them, the makers of Assassin’s Creed consult historians, linguists, archaeologists and field experts when crafting a new game.)


To identify the countries, U.S. states and cities with the most video game location appearances, we scraped the number of video games that appear in each Wikipedia page listing “Video Games Set in [Location].” We combined each list of games per location and per parent location before removing duplicated video game titles. Data was collected for 15,378 games tagged with at least one real-world location.

Guide Strats Staff

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The Guide Strats team includes editors, contractors, and other contributors who help us create awesome gaming content.