Why are artists so crucial in the video game industry?

When it comes to the video game industry,  there is no doubt that gameplay is a crucial aspect of success. Although, most video game enthusiasts would agree that evocative settings and inspiring character, together with a strong narrative, are what can tie them up to their console.

In the video games industry, artists are responsible for all of the aspects of game development that call for visual art. Let’s see what the most important are.

Artists can create a brand new world.

Video games allow players to take part in a story. 

The narrative must be strong, with inspiring heroes, hateful enemies, loyal allies, a mission to complete and lots of twists and turns.  Immersive experiences call for consistency.

 Imaginary worlds must turn into real ones, and artists make it possible. Game designers are involved in the very first phase of game creation. They establish the lore, the setting, the general tone. 

Environment artists use reference and mood boards to create surprisingly detailed sets: landscapes, towns, spaceships. They can bring back past times or imagine apocalyptic futures. Together with musicians, they define the tone of the story. In a horror game, for example, the setting will be dark and bleak, with rainy or foggy weather, and ominous music.  The right setting allows the player to immerse in the game world.

Artists make gameplay a fantastic experience.

Satisfaction is a keyword for game success.  Game designers must fine-tune challenges and difficulties for the audience, provide clear information, and rapid and consonant responses to every action. 

Point of view is a constraint: whether you have a first or third person perspective impacts the whole visual of the game. In the case of a top-down perspective, for example, iconic elements are crucial to identify characters. 

Mechanics and rules are also a huge concern: if the game requests that the player pulls the enemies close to him, he will have to visualize much more details from different angles.

 In videogames, players must deal with many pieces of information at the same time: they must spot dangers and hints and be aware of their strength and health,  while they are fighting or exploring an unknown set. 

It is essential to establish a visual hierarchy, where the most critical information is also the easiest to see. Visual art can come to handy. Artists can use shape, saturation, or light contrast to create focus. They can also draw attention using size, position, layout, and shape.

The importance of visual effects

The main difference between VFX in cinema and video games is that in the second case, they run real-time. It means that visual effects are built directly into game engines, and solicited by actions.

There is no standard approach. Artists are free to use any technique they consider to be the most appropriate.  However, they must be aware that visual effects, aside from being astonishing, still have to communicate the gameplay. For example, they can standardize the use of a given shape or color for a specific purpose.

Technical art in video games

Art in video games has a lot to do with technical aspects. From geology to the way different surfaces and textures react to light, scientific knowledge can come to handy. Characters creators must know how anatomy works, and be aware of what specific bone has to move to make an arm rise and struck the enemy with a sword. Moreover, they must know everything about that sword. The steps leading from the first sketch of a hero to his 3d appearance have a lot to do with geometry, logic, mathematics, and programming.

Video game industry is flourishing and offers artists challenging opportunities. They are asked to be imaginative visionaries, but also reactive and fearless problem solvers who have to deal with multiple difficulties.

However, artists have always created masterpieces defeating limits. Constraints, deadlines, and obstacles are one of the most powerful boosters for a creative mind.