There can be very few people who own a computer, netbook, smartphone or tablet who do not venture into the world of video games. This genre has seen a massive growth, but what are its adherents looking for? What is it that makes a video game popular and gets its followers contributing to the active online forum that all the best games inspire? The first impression when a game is downloaded is of the artwork. If the setting is space exploration, for instance, then it is essential to have a sense of infinity, with the spaceships travelling past strange moons or planets, with weird special effects of suns, comets or alien vessels thrown into the mix.
Other factors that contribute to that initial impact are the sound effects and musical score (indeed there is currently a controversy raging about whether video game music should be recognised as classical music!) And of course, the plot and storyline are vital, especially for strategy games. Whilst an outstanding storyline might be able to overcome weaker computer graphics, it is rare for this to be the case. Poor games art design generally causes players to lose interest early on and take their support elsewhere.
So, what other considerations have to be taken into account with the graphic design of video games? To some extent, this depends on the target participants. For children’s games, especially those aimed at younger children, it is important to have appealing characters, whether human, recognisable animals or aliens. There also has to be an element of fun. With adventure and strategy games, the movement of the graphics is significant as well as, increasingly, the speed of the action. Retaining a balance of swift movement, vivid images, fun, ease of manoeuvrability and overall dramatic effect is far from easy, which is where the games developers have to use experts in games art to stay ahead of the competition.
As with any kind of expertise, the trick is to make something seem easy. The best graphic artists and designers do just that; their characters, buildings and machines have the most appropriate appearance, move easily in dramatic or homely landscapes and encourage players to become devoted fans.