Video Game Art
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Video Game Art

Video game art is a specialized form of computer art employing video games as the artistic medium. Video game art often involves the use of patched or modified video games or the repurposing of existing games or game structures, however it relies on a broader range of artistic techniques and outcomes than artistic modification and it may also include painting, sculpture, appropriation, in-game intervention and performance, sampling, etc.[1][2][] It may also include the creation of art games either from scratch or by modifying existing games. Notable examples of video game art include Cory Arcangel's "Super Mario Clouds" and "I Shot Andy Warhol,"[3]Joseph Delappe's projects including "Dead in Iraq" and the "Salt Satyagraha Online: Gandhi's March to Dandi in Second Life,"[4][5] the 2004-2005 Rhizome Commissions "relating to the theme of games,"[6]Paolo Pedercini's Molleindustria games such as "Unmanned" and "Every Day the Same Dream", and Ian Bogost's "Cowclicker."

Artistic modifications are frequently made possible through the use of level editors, though other techniques exist. Some artists make use of machinima applications to produce non-interactive animated artworks, however artistic modification is not synonymous with machinima as these form only a small proportion of artistic modifications.[] Machinima is distinct from art mods as it relies on different tools, though there are many similarities with some art mods.[]

Like video games, artistic game modifications are often interactive and may allow for single-player or multiplayer experience. Multiplayer works make use of networked environments to develop new kinds of interaction and collaborative art production.


Game academic Aki Järvinen[7] and Mary Keo[8] theorize that there are three overarching art styles in video games. These art styles are abstract, stylized, and realistic.[9]


According to Järvinen and Keo, no video game is truly abstract because the notion of abstractionism implies the existence of only pure forms.[7] In video games, however, even those with an abstract art style, the simulation of at least an environment should be present. The abstract art style in video games must satisfy two elements:[8][9]

  • Geometric shapes and forms are the main elements in a game.
  • Such game elements' functions are implied.

Abstract game art, or abstractionism, is the first game art style to appear because of technology's limitations when video games started becoming popular in the 1970s.[9]


The stylized art style in video games, which Järvinen refers to as caricaturism,[7] is greatly reminiscent of cartoons and comics. Games whose characters and elements have exaggerated features fall under this category. According to Keo, stylized games are also not confined to the limitations imposed by photorealism,[7] which means even the laws of physics in these games do not have to be faithful to that of the real world.

Popular examples of stylized games are Fall Guys[9] and Super Mario Bros.


Realistic games are the last to appear simply because technology has already advanced to the point where companies can develop high fidelity games.[8] Appearing only in the 1990s,[9] realistic video games, which Järvinen refers to as photorealism, have two classes or subcategories, namely televisualism and illusionism. Televisualism is "apparent in sports simulators" as "they simulate the aesthetics of sports event television broadcast."[7] Illusionism, on the other hand, uses "photorealism for fantastic and imaginary purposes."[7]

Järvinen cites Final Fantasy as an example of the realistic art style subcategory illusionism.[7] Other popular examples of realistic video games include The Last of Us and Until Dawn.[9]



Machinima is the use of real-time three-dimensional (3-D) graphics rendering engines to generate computer animation. The term also refers to works that incorporate this animation technique.

In-game intervention and performance

Artists may intervene in online games in a non-play manner, often disrupting games in progress in order to challenge or expose underlying conventions and functions of game play. Examples of this include Anne Marie Schleiner's Velvet-Strike (a project designed to allow players of realistic first person shooter games to use anti-war graffiti within the game to make an artistic statement[10]) and Dead in Iraq (an art project created by Joseph DeLappe in which the player character purposely allows himself to be shot and then recites the names of US soldiers who have died in the Iraq War[11]).

Site-specific installations and site-relative mods

Site-specific installations and site-relative gaming modifications ("mods"), replicate real-world places (often the art gallery in which they are displayed) to explore similarities and differences between real and virtual worlds. An example is What It Is Without the Hand That Wields It, where blood from kills in Counterstrike manifests and spills into a real life gallery.[12]

Real-time performance instruments

Video games can be incorporated into live audio and visual performance using a variety of instruments and computers such as electronic keyboards embedded with music chips.[] See also chiptune and the Fijuu project.[13]

Generative art mods

Generative art mods exploit the real-time capabilities of game technologies to produce ever-renewing autonomous artworks.[] Examples include Julian Oliver's ioq3apaint, a generative painting system that uses the actions of software agents in combat to drive the painting process,[14][15]Alison Mealy's UnrealArt which takes the movements of game entities and uses them to control a drawing process in an external program,[16][17]Kent Sheely's "Cities in Flux," a Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas mod that glitches and distorts the game's world in real-time,[18] and RetroYou's R/C Racer a modification of the graphic elements of a racing game which results in rich fields of colour and shape.[19][20]

See also


  1. ^ John., Sharp (2016-01-01). Works of Game. The MIT Press. ISBN 9780262029070. OCLC 936302522.
  2. ^ Andy, Clarke; Grethe, Mitchell (2013-01-01). Videogames and Art. Intellect. ISBN 9781841504193. OCLC 876434897.
  3. ^ Andy Clarke and Grethe Mitchell (eds.),Videogames and Art (Intellect Books, 2006).
  4. ^ Mail Away: War Correspondence at Home and Away, by Lindsay Kelley, in the Media-N Journal of the New Media Caucus "Archived copy". Archived from the original on May 18, 2013. Retrieved 2013.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  5. ^ The Salt Satyahgraha by Joseph Delappe - review by Natasha Chuk, in Furtherfield
  6. ^ Rhizome Commissions
  7. ^ a b c d e f g Aki, Järvinen (2002). "Gran Stylissimo: The Audiovisual Elements and Styles in Computer and Video Games" (PDF). Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  8. ^ a b c Keo, Mary (2017). "Graphical Style in Video Games". Semantic Scholar.
  9. ^ a b c d e f "Video Game Art Styles You Will See In Almost Every Game". NarraSoft. 2020-11-02. Retrieved .
  10. ^ "Velvet-Strike". Retrieved .
  11. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on December 6, 2006. Retrieved 2006.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  12. ^ 8/23/06 4:15pm 8/23/06 4:15pm. "People Actually Lamer Than Stuart Scott Rip On Stuart Scott". Retrieved .
  13. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on October 17, 2007. Retrieved 2007.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  14. ^ Oliver, Julian. "Julian Oliver". Julian Oliver. Retrieved .
  15. ^ [1] Archived May 12, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
  16. ^ ? posted by on 2014?2?20?. "". Retrieved .
  17. ^ "will be back online soon". Unreal Art. 2014-01-16. Retrieved .
  18. ^ "Viewer-generated screenshots: "Cities in Flux" - D-Pad Toronto 2012 // kent sheely". Retrieved .
  19. ^ "full void". Retrieved .
  20. ^ [2] Archived June 11, 2007, at the Wayback Machine


External links

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