What is an Art Director in Video Game Design?

An art director in video game design is the manager who oversees all stages of the development process. They usually have with proven experience in leading interdisciplinary design teams and motivating staff through dedication to excellence. They are expected to be able to understand game design technology in order to transform business goals into ROIs and realities.

Video Game Genres

Art directors in the field of video game design usually have many years of experience in their video game genre. For example, action games include survival horror like Left 4 Dead and first-person shooters (FPS) like Call of Duty. Classic action RPG games include the Diablo and Fallout franchises. Some of the world’s most popular role-playing games include the World of Warcraft, Final Fantasy and The Elder Scrolls. Other video game categories include sports, racing, strategy, adventure and simulation. The NBA, PGA and FIFA video game franchises are still extremely popular. There is literally a virtual world of difference between a traditional simulation game, such as the Sims and SimCity, and a construction simulation games, such as Theme Park and Jurassic Park. Each video game category involves very unique story boarding, sequencing and user interactions.

Art Directors in Video Game Design

Art directors work with creative teams, campaign managers and senior leadership to conceptualize, create, deliver and evaluate world-class video games. On the business side, they must understand the complexity of game design, common marketing challenges and the different demographic categories. They must develop and strengthen the video game’s artistic assets, such as style and graphics. They often collaborate with the global design community to ensure product appeal, quality and consistency. Art directors oversee the visual creation of game elements and features. They oversee the video game design, development and lifecycle processes. They must construct engaging interfaces, creative gameplay systems and appealing features that will improve user experience, community engagement and economic monetization. Art directors transform high-level ideas into well-thought out concepts, then they direct the creation of prototypes, samples and storyboards.

Industry Competencies

The world of video game design is very eclectic, competitive and individualized. Similar to their IT counterparts in the serious world of software development, video game design companies tend to have strong subcultures that engages users and promote system evolution. Art directors who oversee the video game design process must have a strong foundation in visual storytelling, business language and staff mentoring. They must have the ability to effectively and creatively work with diverse staff under tight deadlines. Tactful communication skills are needed to mentor and manage tech savvy professionals, such as software programmers, who may lack appreciation for the complex artistic process. An art director in video game design may work with graphic designers, copywriters, illustrators, programming supervisor and business leaders every day. Being able to lead by example through articulating and presenting ideas to internal clients is very important.

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An art director in video game design will need to have at least a bachelor’s degree in computers or technology. They must be able to prove to employers that they understand art direction, brand identity, animation design, advertising typography and user-centered solutions, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.