I have loved video games since I was a little girl playing Pokémon Leaf Green on my Game Boy Advance. There is just something about them that has always had my attention. Even now that I’m older and have less time on my hands, I can’t help but spend some of my day on my PS3. When I decided I wanted to become a graphic designer, I didn’t realize how much video games had actually helped my perception of design. You see, graphic design is part design and part problem-solving — working with clients, trying to figure out what their vision is and how to make that a beautiful reality. Video games actually promote both sides of graphic design.
Whether it be super Mario Bros., Castlevania or Dead Rising, there’s a problem-solving process in all of them. In most games, you can’t progress in the story until you’ve solved a certain problem. Playing a game helps strengthen the part of your brain that solves problems, and finishing a game teaches your mind dedication and perseverance through difficult situations. This helps in graphic design because sometimes you will have a client who doesn’t really know what they want their product’s marketing materials to look like.
We have all the resources to create something they will love; we just need to figure out what exactly those pieces are and how they fit together. We can create something that looks amazing, but if the client doesn’t like it, we have to keep remaking it until they do — in the same way a video game will have a really challenging boss battle. You can do an awesome job at fighting and react in the best way but still lose. Those video game bosses teach us to keep on going, fighting and trying until we succeed. If we apply it to graphic design, it shows us to be dedicated to keep trying to make something awesome for a client, even if they don’t really know what they want yet.
Video games also teach us a lot about design. Within every video game, there is a sense of branding. The color schemes in Animal Crossing will never be seen in the Dark Souls series. This may seem minor, but when you’re playing a video game, you tend to immerse yourself in the universe; without consciously doing so, you are memorizing pathways, common practices and customs in the world the video game designer created. The branding becomes completely associated with that video game. This virtual world immersion instills in your brain that branding needs to be consistent.
When designing branding materials for a client, you need to be able to see, right off the bat, that any one piece can be easily associated with the overall brand. In more open world games, we can see complementary colors wiggling their way into our brains as well. Many Legend of Zelda games have multiple areas with different themes associated to each area: there is a forest area, mountain area, water area, graveyard, light temple, etc. When in these areas, we are exposed to many complementary colors and their uses in the foreground or background.
It just shows how important branding is. These sub areas also show that branding doesn’t/shouldn’t look the same. There is a feeling to every area, a Legend of Zelda feeling. The colors may not be completely consistent to the Legend of Zelda theme in every area, but you still know it’s in the Legend of Zelda universe because of the design. This can be seen in some of our work for one of our clients, Hi Scores (speaking of gaming). The banners and posts don’t all have the same black background with yellow and white font; many of the ads we create have a theme associated with what the ad is trying to convey — a particular event or a holiday they are advertising. It’s obvious, however, that it’s a Hi Scores branded ad.
I have always loved video games, and I think that they are the reason I love graphic design so much. Every game I play teaches me about trying your hardest and not feeling discouraged when you have to start over. They teach me that even if I mess up, I’m not any less of a person; it just means I have to do it again and, this time, try a little bit harder. They remind me of how important branding is and inspire me to do the best I can on every design job I am faced with. That’s why I think playing video games make me a better graphic designer.
Junior Designer Meagan just finished Dead Rising 2 and is starting to play her way through the Uncharted series.