The effort to rebuild Notre-Dame Cathedral could get help from an unlikely source: A video game

  • A fire ravaged the iconic Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris on Monday.
  • The cathedral was a centrepiece of the 2014 video game “Assassin’s Creed Unity.”
  • To re-create the cathedral virtually, a level artist at the game’s studio spent years cataloging its structure “to make sure that each brick was as it should be.”
  • While the effort to rebuild the iconic cathedral could benefit from the game designers’ work, it’s unclear whether their work will be referenced.
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A fire on Monday devastated the iconic Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris.

The structure, including its two main towers, remains intact, but its spire collapsed before firefighters could contain the blaze.

French President Emmanuel Macron has vowed to rebuild the famous cathedral, tweeting in French: “We will rebuild it. All together.”

One potential source of help in those efforts is the 2014 video game “Assassin’s Creed Unity,” which is set in Paris.

Assassin's Creed Unity (Notre-Dame Cathedral)UbisoftNotre-Dame Cathedral in the 2014 video game ‘Assassin’s Creed Unity.’

As detailed in a 2014 feature published in The Verge, Caroline Miousse, a Ubisoft level artist, spent two years poring over details of the cathedral to create as accurate a depiction as possible in the game.

“I made some other stuff in the game, but 80% of my time was spent on the Notre-Dame,” she said at the time.

That’s because the cathedral is a centrepiece in “Unity” that players can explore inside and out. The “Assassin’s Creed” series is known for its lovingly detailed re-creations of historic places, and the Notre-Dame Cathedral in “Unity” is no exception.

The Verge’s Andrew Webster wrote of Miousse’s work on the cathedral: “She pored over photos to get the architecture just right, and worked with texture artists to make sure that each brick was as it should be.”

Whether Ubisoft will offer its digital information to the French government remains to be seen – representatives didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

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