Though they are extremely difficult to master, and require extensive technical skills, many still question the validity of video games. For years, players of games were criticized for wasting time, being less cultured, and even of lesser intelligence. It’s only recently that they have begun to ‘prove their worth’ in the commonplace. Video games are a relatively newly accepted art form. There are numerous hours put in slaving away writing, programming, designing, and advertising each game on the market. In this way, there are jobs and opportunities within every game and genre in circulation.

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These efforts only pay off within a captive audience; new players excited for every new update. In an increasingly technology-driven world, however, graphics and quality are at the top of consumers’ wants. No one wants to stare at something repulsive for hours on end, and no amount of mechanics and updates can beat a sleek design. Art can be used to connect a story together without long-winded cut scenes and plot breaks. Art directors now utilize the power of drawn comics and character sheets to excite players pre- and post-launch. Using game art in this inventive way makes the message and character of a game much more effective to the audience. These methods are applied into all major games, and are evident in the most famous franchises in history.

Overwatch (released May 2016) is a competitive first-person shooter held strong by its – still growing – 10 million player fan base. Voted the 2016 Game of the Year, the multiplayer game is known for both its striking style and game play. But, many argue that it isn’t just how it plays or the amount of players that make it worthy. It’s the beautiful landscapes, character designs, and coloring of Overwatch that help it garnish a unique brand of its own. Bill Petras and Arnold Tsang, director and character concept artist at Blizzard Entertainment, spoke about the characters’ amazing visual appeal, “One of the main jobs that we do as art directors is have a vision for what the game looks like, of what the heroes look like, the feeling of the animation, the color palette, and the architecture of the buildings of the world” (The Creators Project). Art direction affects the overall ‘feel’ and prestige a game has. The concept artists of Overwatch are also applauded for tying in the original comic series to actual gameplay. With videos and comic strips added often, it’s easy for players to interact with the game even while not playing. This combination of all sections of the game make it even more rewarding to both the company and the player.

Games that utilize every facet of what makes them great – whether it be the aforementioned writing, gameplay, or design – prove their worth to the audience. This increases the effectiveness of the overall title. Games without clear art direction won’t be able to engage their audience into the story. Plain games may have been charming, smash hits decades ago, but now have greatly lost their popularity. While this may not be a huge deal to the franchise, excited and passionate players are more likely to develop a kind of ‘brand loyalty’. They are less likely to switch to a different game of the same genre/style, because it won’t compare to the great times had with the original.

Games can be specifically designed to evoke certain feelings in the player, helping build immersion. Though a vague way to measure the value of a certain title, success overall stems from a harmony of different game aspects. Game art and direction are booming industries, and are vital to the perception and effectiveness of a game and subsequent franchise.