Art Styles and their uses in the games industry

Video game visuals have always been a big thing for me. Whilst I’ll gladly enjoy a game with poor graphics if the gameplay makes up for it, better graphics or a distinct art style really add to my enjoyment of a product. Whenever I am playing a Bethesda game, I will attempt to make the game look as good as possible using visual mods. I have a large fondness for games that use cell shading such as Okami, Wind waker, XIII, Jet set radio and Veiwtiful Joe.

A distinct art style can make a game far more memorable and when used in tandem with the games design can be a great tool for effecting player behaviour. A good example of this is horror games and their use of post processing to help identify both stressful and peaceful environments. By obscuring the players vision, when coupled with effective sound design, the player is at unease and is likely to be on guard. Whereas a clear environment with sufficient lighting or visibility allows a player to feel more at ease and proceed without having to worry overmuch. Using these techniques, a designer can properly lay out players stressful encounters to ensure the player does not become over stressed and fatigued.

Art styles can also be used to set the mood/tone for a game which not only helps initial impressions but allows for the game’s visual style and design to work closely together. Darkest Dungeon is a game that attempts to instil a sense of dread in its players through the use of a high difficulty level, multiple systems to manage and a high fatality chance and perma-death for every character. The game is supposed to feel oppressive and bleak and the art style has been created to match this. Using a comic book-like style with Gothic styled art and a strong use of lighting, the game’s Art style matches its theme and gameplay elements.

A game’s art style is vital to its sense of identity and is also an invaluable toolkit in a designer’s repertoire. It can be used to manipulate player behaviour, expectations and moods which if utilised correctly is a powerful tool.

This is an area of inquiry that interests me greatly. I have to wonder what kind of questions I would ask in relation to it as being interested in it is only half of the issue at hand. Still, if I was going to choose an area of research that would be likely to hold my interest, I have a good feeling about this one.

*Addendum*

Need to work on my writing on this blog. Whilst I am conveying the information I want to, it feels a little too formal for my personal thoughts on the matters I am covering.

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