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Solarski: Games' Multimedia Nature Makes It 'Easy To Be Lazy As Artists'

Former Sony Computer Entertainment artist Chris Solarski says that games' multimedia nature makes it "easy to be lazy as artists," and argues that simplification
For video game industry artist Chris Solarski, less is more. In a new Gamasutra feature, the former Sony Computer Entertainment artist and current creative director at Swiss startup Gbanga uses a fascinating overview of art history and education to back up his argument. Solarski contends that an erosion of education in traditional art principles has led to video game artists that generally have "not very strong" knowledge in the arts. "The reason for this absence [of knowledge] is partly the fault of the education system," said Solarski, "...and partly due to the fact that it's easy to be lazy as artists when visual communication is complemented by a complete multimedia experience of animated, audio, and visual prompts." He added that "more detail, more sound and more special effects don't necessarily lead to better communication." Solarski said that he spoke with British graduate art students, one who said that they are taught less about traditional art principles, and encouraged more to do "your own thing." This leads to art students -- and teachers -- who lean "more towards conceptual forms of art, such as abstraction and expression, as opposed to traditional practice." Using Bungie's Halo 3 as an example, he said there is so much going on on-screen, from 360-degree movement to a dynamic user interface, that there's no way players can take in all the detail revealed even in one snapshot. In essence, the screen in such a game is visually reduced by the player as a collage of outlines of different objects. "As a result, it's even more essential that video game developers communicate in simpler and more direct visual terms," Solarski said. "Simple iconographic concepts do just that by helping players to understand their gaming environment that much quicker and differentiate, say, enemy characters from allies." For more from Solarski, read Gamasutra's fascinating feature on how traditional art principles have influenced modern media, including video games.

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