Flexibility is one of the most fundamental cornerstones of
artistic expression. This doesn’t just apply with already established art forms
either, as it also reflects the new and constantly evolving avenues which our
artistic appreciation can take.
One of the most recent forms that has been becoming
increasingly visible is that of static gaming images as art. Of course, games
themselves consist of enormous quantities of art assets but, as we commonly see
in photography, images when properly framed can account for more than just the
sum of their parts.
Borrowing from the Old, Relying on the New
Perhaps the most obvious component of this burgeoning art
form comes from the classic discipline of photography. Light, framing, focal length,
and so many other forms of image manipulation raise their heads here, and these
have benefitted heavily from improving graphical horsepower.
Rising graphical standards through better in-game textures,
model quality, lighting techniques, anti-aliasing, and antistrophic filtering
have all been growing increasingly convincing in recent years, and these are
only a few of the technologies involved.
While depictions of realism have obviously seen some of the
biggest leaps in believability, it should also be noted that stylised graphics
like those from cell-shaded games have also made significant strides in recent
Aiding in this more traditional appeal to photography is
the inclusion of what is known as a photo mode in many newer games. This is
usually triggered through the pause menu or by performing a special button
combination, which then pauses the action and opens up the photo tool.
This tool then allows players to fully rotate and tilt the
camera, change its distance, add filters to the screen, remove certain
characters, add borders, manipulate saturation and brightness, and otherwise
play with a whole host of other options.
In effect, this gives more freedom than a real-life
photographer could ever find, which can give rise to some astounding artistic
pieces. Take a look at a few from Redbull, for the recent PS4 Spider-Man game, to see just a hint of the
Building the Business
The other side of this equation is afforded through the
inclusion of humanity as a means of guiding expression and understanding.
Before taking a look at how we accomplish this today, however, we need to
examine the place screenshots have had in gaming’s past.
Primarily, screenshots were a form of advertising above all
else. By placing images of the most exciting parts of a game on the back of the
box, a studio could show their games in the most measured way possible. This
could allow them to draw from parts of high action or the areas where games
possessed the most graphical fidelity.
This was so important, in fact, that it sometimes involved
less than honest practices and, more recently, helped shaped the current form
of console gaming. On rare occasions, the screenshots on the back of the gaming
box would only include images from the best-looking version of a multiplatform
release, for example, while the game included within might never match these
When it comes to the most recent generation of consoles,
gaming enthusiasts have lamented the emphasis of resolution over frame-rate.
This very deliberate choice has allowed games to look amazingly good in still
images like screenshots, though it inevitably makes the gameplay itself suffer
as a result of less fluidity.
Better in screenshots, and better for their art, but less
helpful to those invested in more mobile depictions of gaming art.
Taking from the Human Aspect
In terms of bringing the visibility of gaming and the art
within to mass attention, few developments have been as influential as game
streaming. Giving space to both the game and the human participants, this goes
for a different tact than just in-game illustration, relating human response
and feeling back to the game with a direct line.
There is a modern classic style in taking screenshots from
live gaming services like Twitch, UStream, and YouTube, for example, in times
of success, failure, frustration, or comedy. Selecting the right moment, and
using this to capture emotion is an incredibly effective system and one that
has inspired memes the world over.
This doesn’t just apply to these services either, as casino online services utilise game streaming to offer
interactive classics such as blackjack and roulette though the likes of live casino
games. These are more interactive, and all the more effective at conveying and
setting a mood because of it.
Static, Moving, and Virtual
As graphics and animation only improve, and the gaming
market continues to grow, it is inevitable that we will see a greater emphasis
on gaming-related art in the future. With the introduction of new tech like virtual reality, this could even take the form
of fully immersive images, which could shape the medium in ways not yet
Offering itself as one of the more communal and
participatory illustrations of art, from the assets to the placement and
capture, this opens doors to an interesting future of collaboration. Regardless
of how you see gaming itself, these possibilities are certainly expansive and