Building 'Game worlds' : a study for the artist through theories of art & visual perception
Lee, Jolly Yu See
Date of Issue2017-04-26
School of Art, Design and Media
Video games are playable journeys that occur through time. A major portion of this journey is experienced through the visuals. These visuals are commonly referred to as “graphics ”, a term appropriated from computer programming and coding. Such a term is used differently amongst artists and art historians, which results in a conflicting vocabulary to communicate the visual creation process of a world in a video game. Furthermore, academic research revolving around visual art in game studies is often an overlooked topic. This leaves game artists with insufficient means to fully express the weight of the visual creation process within video games. In light of such an oversight, this research will examine the game artist’s process of creating visual game worlds using an amalgamation of three topics, visual composition, visual perception and game design. It corresponds to the close relationship of the artist, game designer and player when it comes to the creation of a cohesive, consistent and convincing visual game world. Guiding this research is a framework consisting of Rudolf Arnheim’s perceptual theories on art and visual compositions, and concepts from notable game theorists, including Mark J. P. Wolf and Jesper Juul. In addition to this framework, a basic world structure combining space, visual entities, time, temporality, forces and motion, is introduced as a fundamental skeleton of a game world. With this skeleton, a set of preconceived standards including video game genres, themes, time periods and visual styles are used to analyse existing visual game world examples. The point of this analysis is to find prominent factors reflecting the visual methods utilised by artists to portray game worlds. It leads into a hypothetical example of how the game artist can use these theories, concepts and standards to create and arrange objects in a simulated environment to convey an overall narrative that enhances the story within the game world. This example is not a definitive model for the entire creation process. Instead, it is a demonstration that reflects the research topics (visual composition, visual perception and game design) within a game world environment. Beyond this research, further development on the discussion of the visual creation process within a game world is needed to refine approaches that are accessible and substantial for game artists.
DRNTU::Visual arts and music::Media