What does Gotham city mean to you? I have been asking myself this question lately as I play through Batman: Arkham Knight. I spend most of my time gliding around from above, doing my best to avoid boring vehicle gameplay, so I guess Gotham city is its skyscrapers. Or maybe Gotham is the ant-like swarm of enemies populating its streets in endless supply. Or maybe its villains, who have seemingly agreed to carve up the city into their own bite-size portions of malevolence. I suspect all of these are unsatisfying answers.
A sense of place, that ephemeral subjective quality, can be so hard to describe. It shifts and blurs, a combination of emotions, history, politics, and geography. A sense of place can be, at the same time, personal yet collective. For example, I know what Northern California means to me. It is rocky shorelines, vineyards, redwoods, day laborers, and tired hands, among other things. I struggle to understand Gotham city with the same clarity. Why is that?