What brought me to SAE to study design was the broadness of design itself. Everything in the world that is man-made, first had to be designed. Practically the whole world is an open opportunity to a designer.
What mainly caught my attention in terms of design, though, was video games. Now more than ever, the public will measure a game’s worth largely on its appearance, meaning everything from the graphics within the game to the promo art. Perhaps a game has a fantastic premise, good controls, or the soundtrack was recorded by a famous band, but if it doesn’t LOOK good, people just won’t play it. Aesthetics have quickly become almost as important (if not landed on the same level) as the game-play itself. It’s that fast growing “yes, but is it pretty?” attitude which is arguably the most interesting thing about the relationship between media and consumers. As though all a game’s worth can be determined by is it’s looks, if people aren’t up to their eyeballs wading through graphics good enough to rival James Cameron’s Avatar, then “not enough” was put into it’s creation.
Not enough what? I hear you ask. Not enough everything, apparently.
In particular, visual novels are steadily gaining more ground in the gaming community due not only to their immersive story lines, but also because they look beautiful. These choice-based games are easily compared to comics, only with background music, sound effects, and voice actors pouring their soul into the characters. And, as with any comic, the design of the characters, the attention to detail that goes into constructing each background, right down to the menu screen interface needs to tie in together in order to make it all work as a whole.
DRAMAtical Murder (yes, here I go naming names) was received really well by its target audience, mainly made up of girls aged 18 to 30 who were pulled in by the promise of it being one of the next best BL (abbrev. of “boy’s love” which means exactly what it sounds like) games of all time, as well as it’s many pretty-boy characters all with their perfect smiles and sparkly eyes. Can looks be deceiving? In this case, most definitely, but it’s easier to market beautiful, flawed characters, than it ever will be to sell a character that looks just like a normal person, whether their personality outshines the sun or not. And if that’s not telling enough on its own as to what has become of society and gaming in the past ten or so years, then I’m not sure what else I can say.
I’d be a huge liar to say I don’t assert the same attitude towards the aesthetic (can you smell my pants burning? No? Exactly.). But more than continue sliding down this fun spiral slippery-dip of looks good = is good that has consumed us as much as we consume it, I want to learn to really use that and, in turn, communicate on boundless new levels with the world through graphic design.