Gamasutra has a great article discussing the role of architecture in videogames, and how the environment supports gameplay.
"Architecture -- meaning both landscapes and structures -- is what turns the bare grid of the chessboard into the living world of the computer game. Its importance is on a par with character design in creating the player's visual experience. Character design tells you who you are; architecture tells you where you are. But more than that, it also tells you what might happen to you there, and even sometimes what you ought to be doing."
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