Art Styles in RPG’s

Tuesday, 14. December 2010

Art of HG Vol1 (DP9, S. Jackson Games)

As we look at any reference book for games, you see a continuous evolution of the rules, for better or for worse.  Along with this in most cases, is an evolution of art styles between one edition or another.   If you look further from one game to another, the styles are wildly divergent from intense black and whites, to anime, to themes that fight right into movies.  Does the art style of a particular game influence your style of play?

I think it definitely influences how consistently the game world is viewed from player to player.  Along with that, it sets a tone for the style of play within the game world itself.  This isn’t to say that it can’t be deviated from, but the set idea of the game comes from its artwork.  If it’s say, dark and gritty then it’s hard to get the mind out of the idea that the setting is in fact the same, even if it is in reality less serious.  Likewise if the art has a lighter feeling, it takes a little work to get into a darker mood.  White wolf and Heavy gear would probably be my 2 examples there, anime art always has a little bit of a cartoonish feel to me. 

Likewise, we can also look at art between editions.  D&D is the most obvious  in my case, so I’ll use that as an example.  It spans from the classical art in first and second edition, moving into a very Tolkien feeling in 3rd and 3.5, finally to a somewhat cartoon world of warcraft feeling in 4 and essentials.  I think this ties more into what the public acceptability of popular is.. but generally invokes the feeling of an epic fantasy from all of them.  The styling just dictates the flavor of epic fantasy.  I think the flavor in this case changes more from one setting to another.. looking at Greyhawk or Darksun or Ravenloft. It seems to me that affects my perception of the play style considerably more.

Does anyone else find there is something of an expectation based on the art styling?

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2 Responses to “Art Styles in RPG’s”



  1. Don Says:

    Art = Marketing for these games.

    Evaluate the art, and you have the gamer designer’s target audience. In the case of D&D, I’d say this is spot on.



  2. Grey Says:

    Oh, it’s marketing for sure. But does it affect your initial mood or playstyle at all?

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