To Inspire. To Be Inspired. – 30 Stories on HKUST Faculty, Alumni and Students

Born and bred in Guangzhou, Huo Kaiyang’s love for his hometown inspired him to learn more about it and build a virtual version of the city to share with the world. A drone flies over the monolithic skyscrapers of a megacity that stretches into the distance. Hints of life flicker into view: vehicles dotted down highways and over bridges, football players darting across the green of a stadium, pedestrians walking through parks and alongside rivers. The footage is stunning. It’s everything you’d expect from a promotional tourism video. But if you look closer, you will see that the assortment of people, from babies in strollers to businesspeople and shoppers, look like characters from a video game. This is a video clip 81 of Virtual Guangzhou, created in the city simulation game, Cities: Skylines by self-taught landscape editor, and Guangzhou native, Huo Kaiyang. Starting in 2016, Kaiyang spent six to eight hours a week over the course of three years creating Virtual Guangzhou, excluding time for informationgathering field trips around the city. He had never used modeling software before but learned through self-study and communication with other gamers. Kaiyang got to know Guangzhou in a whole new way — even becoming interested in the city’s congestion and ways to improve its traffic flows. In February 2021, the first video of Virtual Guangzhou was released, allowing audiences to fly through the city in striking detail. The video reached 1.2 million views in just a few weeks.