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What is the difference between game art and game design

What’s the difference between Game Art vs Game Design?

Annual revenue from video games is projected to reach over 521 billion dollars by 2027, according to Statista. With roles like game artist, designer, and programmer all being in such high demand, it’s easy to see why so many people are rushing to get into this growing industry. However, it can be overwhelming to figure out where to start. That’s why we are breaking down the differences and similarities between Game Art and Game Design.

What is Game Art?

Game Art as the name might lead you to believe focuses primarily on the aesthetic elements of a game. According to CGSpectrum these elements may be characters, objects, or scenery, and are often known as assets. Game artists visualize these different assets to create a cohesive world via a unique visual language. As such, artists have multiple avenues that they can pursue to master their craft, whether that be character design, environmental design, or even lighting.

What is Game Design?

Game Design is considered the more analytical side of video games, focused more on a game’s back-end coding and mechanics. A game designer is often the creative director and level designer for many gaming projects, and in some cases, even writes the game’s overall story. The designer then compiles a list of assets required for the game and designates them to the artist to create. If the artist faces technical limitations, the designer must facilitate conversations between artists and researchers, to determine new processes for artists to complete their creative responsibilities.

What’s the difference between Game Art and Game Design?

The primary difference between the two is aesthetic vs mechanic. For example, a game artist may create the look of a room by designing objects to go on the walls, textures to put on the floor, and deciding how light may enter the room. The designer will block out the basic geometry of the room, deciding where assets should be placed, ensuring there is enough room for combat and jump mechanics, as well as placing non-playable characters. Often, the most significant difference between the two roles is between analytical and creative concerns. Artists are responsible for the look and feel of the video game’s world, while designers have more influence on the action and player abilities in that world. 

How are Game Art and Game Design related?

Without Game Art and Game Design, the games you love wouldn’t exist. This is true not only for video games but even for classic board games like Monopoly and Clue. The union between form and function is important in creating a unified game of any medium. Thoughtful collaboration between the two fields are responsible for every single game you love to play. Please follow the links below if you are interested in learning more about RMCAD’s on-campus and online Game Art Degrees or if you would like to read 5 Careers you can pursue with a Degree in Game Art.


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