I have always been interesting in the choice of a games art style and why they used specific colours in-game; therefore I have decided to explore the use of these things in some of my favourite games. Looking in depth about the colour choices and the psychology behind them; the way that colours and drawing style can evoke different emotions within a game is truly astonishing and I wish to share my knowledge on this subject with you.
The colours in a game are very important to the overall mood of the game; if you use dark colours it is more likely to make the atmosphere more scary and eerie, if bright colours are used it makes it seem more cheery and upbeat and if neutral pastel colours are used it makes a very calm and peaceful surrounding. Colours can make a person feel so many different emotions and this is obvious when used in a game environment. The main types of colour schemes used in games are; complementary colours which are opposite on the colour wheel, analogous colours which are colours next to each other on the wheel and monochromatic colours which are the different shades of one colour.
One of my favourite art styles is the work of Telltale games; in their games The Walking Dead and The Wolf Among Us they use a beautiful cel shaded 3D modelled scheme with perfectly thought out colours and lighting. The use of cel shading in The Wolf Among Us brings a gritty cartoon feel to the game; this means it can be serious and childlike when needed. The style also gives it a unique look and brings depth to the already created fictional world. The game also gives off a film noire feel through its storyline, camera angles and art style this makes the player feel more drawn to the game and more compelled to play it. The Wolf Among Us uses many different colours to create their dark moody environments for example this image uses the complementary colours purple and yellow to create a wary alleyway scene.
The purple in this image represents inferiority and the yellow anxiety, the characters in this image are unsure of the outcome of a potential fight in an alleyway but they know it isn't going to end well. Another good example is the uses of analogous colours in this next picture;
The pinks and reds used in this scene are connoting courage, weakness and 'fight or flight'; these colours have been cleverly used to show the power of the character but to also show that the other characters are going to retaliate but one of the sides isn't going to be as strong; this is due to the pink being a demasuculising colour and it being a sign of weakness, this paired with the red which is a powerful aggressive colour means that the two colours (characters) will clash.
The next game on my list has been called art rather than a video game; Journey is honestly one of the best looking games of all time. The cartoony look to the game gives it a light hearted feel however the game has extremely well thought out colour schemes. The game uses no speech or text therefore the environments, characters and music need to portray the mood and storyline of the game; each different part of the game has different colour schemes the darker the colours get the more dangerous and scary the section is meant to be. Journey uses many colour schemes to create their beautiful environments; one of the most powerful being a monochromatic scene.
In this image the use of orange tones create a calming and beautiful atmosphere, the colours are desaturated so they are not over powering. The use of orange gives a sense of comfort, security and warmth; the browns bringing tranquillity, earthiness and support to the environment. Journey also uses complementary colour schemes;
In this image the heavenly pastel pink and green create a soft and light feeling atmosphere; the added white connotes purity and beauty making the scene. The pink is used to create Physical tranquillity and the green harmony and peace; these colours will make the player feel calm and relaxed whilst exploring the beautiful landscape. Another good example is the use of analogous colours;
The purples create a reclusive scene with the blues making it feel cold; however the lighter blue sections are used to show intelligence and help guide you through the level. It is obvious to see why journey has been referred to as art rather than a game; the colours used with its beautiful art style produce a fantastic dynamic art experience.
The importance of art style and colour choices is evident in Don't Stave which uses a 2D cut-out dark cartoon style; the drawings are very Burtonesque and therefore give off a gothic vibe adding to the games overall cutesy but gloomy style. The colours in this game are fairly realistic there is no over powering colours everything is quite desaturated and dark giving off that overall gothic theme. Don't Stave uses a very muted colour scheme; the colours used are realistic and are normally seen in everyday life; for example blue, green and yellow is often seen in nature.
The analogous colours used throughout the game create a cartoony but realistic world; the colours being washed out and grey work perfectly with the whole gothic Tim Burton style of drawing. The browns and greens used make the scene very earthy and stable the yellow adds another layer of Optimism and fear. Without these colour choices the game could have a completely different mood; for example if bright colours were used it would make the game cheery and not seem as gloomy and dark which would detract from the overall game play.
The game Hotline Miami is also an amazing example of a successful 2D game with an interesting art style. Hotline Miami's art was influenced by the 80's and games of its time; the use of bright neon colours and music work so well together and create an upbeat game atmosphere which gets the player in the mood to smash some heads in (in-game of course). Hotline Miami is a perfect example of how even low resolution 2D games can still be as good as any 3D realistic game. Hotline Miami doesn't really have a set colour scheme, they use bright wacky colours that clash to create a trippy looking world; the use of the swaying scenes helps create this atmosphere.
The bright neon colours in-game denote the 80's due to the use of the same colours in this era. The overall use of the pinks and reds connote emasculation and aggression which help the player get in the mood; becoming an angry mask wearing killer. Clashing colours can mean lots of different things but it mainly shows confusion and anxiety, this fits the overall trippy feel to the game and the storyline.
A great example of how art style can influence the market is Angry Birds; they took a pre-existing game and threw some pretty colours, cute characters and interactive sound effects on it and it has been downloaded over 42 million times; just showing us how important art is to games and how colour choices and draw a player in. Angry birds has mainly used analogous colours to create a bright, happy and childish atmosphere.
The green is used to show balance and also boredom, the bright colours used on the pigs makes your eyes drawn to them making them the main target. The yellow used on the bird is used to show confidence and power; this makes the bird seem more dominant than the green pigs. The bright colours typically draw in players and the addictive game-play makes them stay, however if they game didn't have the appealing art style then the player wouldn't stick around for long; the overall alluring art style and colour make the game and without it I don't believe it would have sold more than 100 copies.
Don’t Starve and Hotline Miami also show that 2D games are not dead, it is usually thought that 2D games are inferior to 3D games but I believe that this is completely incorrect; just because we don’t see them on next-gen does not mean that any realistic looking 3D game is better. 2D’s classic characteristics will never be outdated and no matter how elaborate 3D games become; 2D will always be at the heart of the 3D and is evident in the games we know and love today.
After delving into the world of art style and the psychology of colour it is clear to me how important these aspects are to video games. In games such as Angry Birds it is apparent that without the art style and colour schemes that game would have not sold even half as much as it did. Journey would not be seen as a piece of art and The Wolf Among Us wouldn’t be as unique and eye catching and hotline Miami would just be another top down fighting game; without their art styles these games would be boring and generic. Overall we can see that 2D games and 3D games are equal; we look at games such a journey and the power of the colours used are incredible the way that these colours can create dense atmospheres and mood along with telling a story is astonishing, it is now obvious to me how important these aspects are to creating a brilliant video game. After looking at all of the colour schemes in these games it is truly amazing how just a few colours, shades and tones can make you feel different emotions and moods. By utilising colours psychological meanings you can create incredible atmospheres like all of the games above. To make a good game you need to think about the style and colours you use.
Justin Towell. (2012). Why 2D will never die. Available: http://www.gamesradar.com/why-2d-will-never-die/. Last accessed 25/04/2014.
Martin Toney. (2013). The Wolf Among Us Wiki: Everything you need to know about the game. Available: Justin Towell. (2012). Why 2D will never die. Available: http://www.gamesradar.com/why-2d-will-never-die/. Last accessed 25/04/2014.. Last accessed 25/04/2014.
THE BOOK. Available: http://theartofjourney.com/. Last accessed 25/04/2014.
http://uk.ign.com/. (2013). AN APPETIZING, LONELY FEAST.. Available: http://uk.ign.com/articles/2013/05/02/dont-starve-review. Last accessed 25/04/2014.
Tom Bramwell. (2012). Hotline Miami review. Available: http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2012-10-23-hotline-miami-review. Last accessed 25/04/2014.
Teo. (2010). Angry Birds Hits 42 Million Free and Paid downloads. Available: http://www.symbian-freak.com/news/010/12/angry_birds_hits_42_million_free_and_paid_downloads.htm. Last accessed 25/04/2014.
Angela Wright. (2008-14). Psychological Properties Of Colours.Available: http://www.colour-affects.co.uk/psychological-properties-of-colours. Last accessed 25/04/2014.