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“When people think of video games, their first thought is of how they play,” says Ryan Stevenson, a concept artist at Rare Ltd. “The art and artist are often forgotten.
“Concept artists are even more shadowy,” adds the artist who has worked on It’s Mr. Pants, Banjo-Kazooie: Grunty's Revenge and Viva Pinata since joining the UK-based developer (now part of Microsoft Game Studios) in 2001. “There aren’t many of us around and we’re specialists, so it’s not surprising we’re one of the least known professions in the games world.”
“It’s easy to forget that everything computer generated on a screen has been designed by someone,” McCarthy adds. “Very few people are aware of it, but it’s massively important. The look and feel of the world you are immersed in is very much at the forefront of the experience, even if it’s ultimately the gameplay that decides whether or not it’s enjoyable. I suppose art is one of those things that is only ever noticed when it’s done stunningly well or, unfortunately, when it’s done badly.”
Cheol Joo Lee, a concept artist at Vancouver-based Relic Entertainment, goes a step further by suggesting games artists bring more to the table than the superficial bells and whistles consumers see when they boot up the final product.
“Artists are important for games in general, not just for game graphics,” says Lee, who has worked on Company of Heroes and Warhammer 40000: Dawn of War since joining Relic in 2003. “Not all artists are creative, but most artists are trained to develop creative ways of forming art, so their creative minds can be helpful for all aspects of game development.”