Artistic expression gains significance in the video game industry
Without doubt, video games are an increasing means of expression in modern society. Creating video games means creating different worlds, characters, stories, designs, narratives, etc. Many already openly talk of ‘a new art’. ‘All the creative industries (film, theatre, music, visual arts) began in small format addressed to small, specific audiences. For example, the film industry began as a means of entertainment for Parisians, yet today it is mass-produced and encompasses very diverse products: children’s, science fiction, romantic comedy, terror, etc. The same has happened with video games. They began as games for teenagers, 14-year-old boys, who used them for escapism and entertainment, but today the market is enormous and has become a product of mass production. Today there are 2,000 million smartphones and 200 million consoles. There is no longer one audience, there are many audiences,’ explains Daniel Sánchez-Crespo, director of UPF’s Master in Video Game Creation, and on a professional level, general director at Novarama, creator of the popular Invizimals.
The turnover in the video game industry in Spain reached 1.083 million euros in 2015, according to data from the Spanish Video Game Association, a figure that almost doubles the film industry (571 million euros, according to data from Rentrak). In fact, for several years now, video game turnover figures surpass those for the music and film industry combined.
This is why the industry has become diversified, and one of the areas in which it has diversified most is in the artistic aspect. ‘In the same way that in cinema a Woody Allen film has nothing to do with Star Wars, the same has happened to video games, so the Candy Crush saga has nothing to do with the aesthetic content in Uncharted', explains Sánchez-Crespo.
That is why for video game companies, art professionals are becoming more and more important to the industry. ‘Today all video game companies employ 50 percent from the art sector,’ insists Sánchez-Crespo. Art directors, lighting technicians, texture designers, sculptors, animators, and a vast array of professionals from fine arts, comics, graphic art, architecture and interior design, music, visual and conceptual art. ‘The same happens at universities. Video game master programs are comprised of 50% engineers and programmers while 50% have art profiles.’
Artistic expression has gained so much ground in the video game industry that even the modern art museum of New York, MoMA, recognized it with a permanent exhibition dedicated to the art of video games in the museum.