Sunday, 3 March 2013

Game Design: Art Direction for Games

Art directors for game studios essentially supervise the “vision” of the game making sure that the art being produced is fitting with the desired visual aesthetic and feel of the game. The art director would make decisions about the artistic style, level of stylisation and making sure that the desired mood is achieved by the artists working with the art director. Most importantly they are in charge of setting the quality of the work produced. In the case of film and games the art director is just below the production designer and answers to the production designer if the company is of a large enough scale.

The art director should be considering every last detail of the game, each crack on the wall, each tree and other such “pernickety” things are essential to creating the immersive value of the games which we are seeing today. The games industry unlike the film industry has almost no margin for error, where the film industry has a great deal of post production opportunities games do not. When the game is in the customers hands it is expected to be flawless. This difference in margin for error is also seen in the fact that in most games nowadays one of the key concepts is exploration and so the player will be going anywhere, the art director has to account for the player truly exploring whereas films have a set view of the action.

The art director seems to be the person in the production pipeline who oversees how everything is coming together and supervising the creation of the game. From this statement the position doesn’t seem particularly creative more about teamwork and supervision; however such a creative industry and such a creative environment would mean that the art director would have to be a talented artist with a great deal of industry experience to be able to demand the respect of the artists working with them. Also they are likely to work on the project themselves in different ways varying on the person in the role. The role is unlikely to zap all the creativity of a person who, to get such a job, has to have proved their creativity and understanding of art and the games industry to have even got the job in the first place.

To become an art director I feel the main thing I need to improve is my ability to make others aware that I’m listening to them, this is quite a personal flaw and one that I am very aware of. The issue here is that often I seem like I’m shooting someone’s ideas down or that I’m trying to keep the attention on me which truly isn’t what I’m meaning to do. I often think of things and have this feeling that unless I get them out I will forget them and perhaps the person would have a misinterpretation of what I’m trying to say. This manifests itself in an almost arrogant form of confidence and something that I greatly regret, and its from this that I feel difficulties can arise when it comes to team based work. While I feel quite comfortable in a position of leadership I don’t feel that my serious approach to things or my interpersonal skills are quite up to scratch for such a position. This is something I am working on for benefit on an everyday level and will hopefully help if I were to be in such a position of leadership in the future. Obviously my artistic ability and my understanding of the industry must greatly increase but I feel that these things are things that come with time and experience and so we shall see. It is certainly a position that I would love to be in but it is a far off goal and I need to direct the focus back to now.

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