Graphics in Video Games

As an artist, I am intrigued by the aesthetic qualities of video games;  I am constantly drawing and playing games that include detailed graphics. Visuals and graphics in video games add to the gaming experience by involving the gamer in a life like experience.  Just as other bloggers have stressed the importance of music in video games, artistic graphics in videogames can definitely enhance the gaming experience and make the player feel as if he or she is actually a part of the game. The aesthetic quality of video games has improved tremendously in a matter of decades.

There are different types of graphics that have evolved over the years.  Vector graphics make shapes based on mathematic equations and were somewhat rare but used in games such as Starglider (1986):


Full motion video games use pre recorded television or movies to create an animation rather than a sprite or vector.   These types of games were released in the early 90’s and were for low capacity consoles.  Popularity for these types of games declined as more advanced consoles came out.

Overhead projection gives players a bird’s eye view and was popular in war and construction games. Some examples of games that have this are: Sim City (1989), Grand Theft Auto(1999), and Railroad Tycoon(1990).

SimCity II

These games usually had side scrolling as well; where the gamer is allowed to get a side viewpoint of the surrounding area. As gaming graphics progressed, graphic designers were looking to make games more lifelike.  There were numerous attempts to “fake” or imitate three dimensional graphics in video games before actual three dimensional graphics were discovered.  There were different techniques for making two dimensional games look three dimensional.  Some examples of games that contained graphics such as these were: Street Fighter II (1993) and The Sims (2000).

Street Fighter II

Three dimensional graphics made games more lifelike and expanded the limitations of the two dimensional gaming world and the simple pixilated vectors and sprites; they displayed a realistic character that operated in real-time.  The backgrounds in three dimensional graphics usually remained static and two dimensional, however there were some exceptions.  When three dimensional graphics were released, so were first person and third person views.  This gave the gamer a fuller view of the game and a variety of perspectives.

Although I do not believe that visuals alone will make a lousy game suddenly exciting; graphics in video games capture my attention and I feel that they should be appreciated.  A few recent games that contained excellent graphics were Crysis (2007) which received awards such as “Best Shooter”, best “Graphics: Technical” and “Best PC Game”  from GameSpot.  Another one would be Batman Arkham City (2011), which, according to “ingame” was ranked in the top ten graphics for 2011; it was also nominated for numerous awards at the 2011 Spyke TV Video Game Awards.  Gaming graphics will continue to evolve, and although we shall never forget the our pixilated friends such as Pac Man and the Super Mario Brothers, the world of gamming has bigger and better things in store for graphic design.


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