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Keymaster

Well, since I’m a graphic designer by trade, and have created the graphic design for a few games (eg Tales of the Arabian Nights, Ninjato, Inkognito, Aztlan), this is a subject dear to my heart (in other words, if I start to rant tell me to pipe down).

Obviously, I think graphic design is absolutely vital. However, I don’t mean ‘making things look pretty’ (how I hate that definition of graphic design). Graphic design is visual communication. And that means that it is intimately tied up with every aspect of the design of a boardgame. The aesthetics and the functionality of a game are not separate elements, they are inextricably intertwined.

One of the main aspects of tabletop gaming that appeals to me is the tactile nature of it. I’ve completed thousands of graphic design jobs in the last 25 years, and so many are ephemeral things that have a short lifespan or don’t even physically exist. To actually hold a copy of Tales of the Arabian Nights gives me great pleasure, because (for the life of the game anyway) it’s an object of (I think) beauty that exists in the real world that I helped make. So I really appreciate the beauty of these objects, and how they look on my shelf and on the table as I play them. When that beauty is perfectly immeshed with clear communication, the two enhance each other and result in the perfect experience. Neither works well without the other – the most beautiful game is useless if the visuals get in the way of the game functioning as a game, and the most clearly communicated game is (to me) useless if it doesn’t immerse you in its experience and appeal as an object.

Am I ranting yet? 😉