How do you explain mapping to non-tech people?

Mapping is certainly one of my bigger hobbies, but talking to family/friends who might not be familiar with videogames or tech, I always struggle to improvise an explanation for what it actually is. The result, stringing together “3D computer stuff”, “architecture” or “you know the matrix?”, is thoroughly confusing :v:. People are blown away by pictures, but it’s another predicament when they ask what maps are actually for. Even other gamers are lost on what Garry’s Mod is.

Do you mention mapping as a hobby? What’s your layman’s/10-second explanation?

I just lump mapping in the broad “looking at stuff on the computer” response whenever I’m asked by my family why I spend hours in my room and only leave to go to work. It isn’t like they’d know what mapping is and even if they did, they’d forget a few days later and I’d have to explain it again.

I usually say I design locations for players to explore and interact with. Then I point to various object around the room(or explain that I would make the room itself), and explain that I’d make those too.

I usually equate it to a combination of things like building/landscape architecture, interior design, engineering, and/or urban planning. There’s a lot of similarities to those fields, but main difference is that it’s for virtual environments.

I tell people its the environment that a video game plays in, and that I create that environment.

“Is that CAD?”


Everytime I explain it to my parents/friends they’re like “You’re making a GAME!?” and I’m like “Well not exactly a game but more like a level”. “OH WOW THAT’S COOL” However when I show it to my dad hes like “Meh”. :speechless:

“I’m a god in a virtual world”

I generally say something similar like “I’m making a level for a game” and they usually understand.

If I say that I’m making a map they usually ask what place I’m making a map of. :v:

“I’m doing scale architecture mockups on the computer.”

Same here “Ei you know CS right? Have you played Dust2? Well I can create levels like that, just as awesome tho :v:

Recently ive been spending 10+ hrs a day everyday working on my map listening to podcasts and my friend who I stopped playing with because of mapping wanted to know what I was working on so I more a less just send them a 5 minute video of a timelapse of me making a map, not really effective way to show them but its the quickest.

I call it being a “3D Interactive Environmental Artist”

Oooooh I like this. I just tell people I “make levels for video games”

“have you heard of left 4 dead”

if not then I’m like yeah its stupid nevermind

I generally don’t bother to tell people unless they show an interest.

Most people I know offline don’t care what I’m making anyway.

Programming is not really impressive to anyone because they can’t see what you’re doing, and if they see the end result, it’s no big deal. Especially if your audience is another programmer because they think “well, I could do that if I had time”.

Online it’s the opposite, mostly those that know me through forums etc, do so because they care about what I’m making, but couldn’t give a damn who I actually am in real life - and that’s totally fine, too.

I’m getting older and I don’t have time to share by helping people online to code - but I will try to point people in the right direction if they ask.