A recent Huffington Post article titled ‘ Why The Games Industry Needs Artists, Not Just Coders’ struck a chord with me as a creative. So much emphasis is placed on the technological aspect of an industry that essentially, has story-telling, film-making and choreography at its roots.
The programming element of gaming is undoubtedly central and essential to the industry, no arguments there. Developments in this area are what a good game needs to provide the look and feel required for an engaging experience. But the coder should be to the graphic artist what the engineer is to the singer, or the director to the writer. No one would expect Rihanna to sing, produce and edit her songs but the gaming industry seems to require the full spectrum of creativity and practical, technological know-how from employees.
Perhaps economic downturn had a part to play in the unfair expectation of having the programmer and the illustrator be the same person. Perhaps, unlike other creative fields, creativity without coding is like removing the pen from the artist’s hand? Whatever the reason, Dr Jo Twist, CEO of UK Interactive Entertainment (UKIE) told the Huffington Post that the industry is not attracting the level of artists it once did, stating, “We don’t have the diversity of talent that we need at the moment.” I think it’s safe to say that the kids who have a natural aptitude for the sciences and the kids who spend their day sketching fantastical worlds bursting with fairies, goblins and big-breasted she-warriors aren’t always going to be the same person.
The industry has grown and changed a lot and the forerunners of animation in film and gaming wouldn’t have had the access to digital animation education that is available now. They probably would have been artists like Peter Docter, Pixar animator and screenwriter of Monsters Inc. and Up who after obtaining an Art and Philosophy degree honed his cartooning skills and character observations into what we now consider to be examples of the best animated films ever produced. He joined Pixar with nothing more than great drawing ability (with a pencil and pad) and a knack for understanding and caricaturing human interaction and emotion – the roots of any successful story, no?
Twist added that programming should be seen as an art form of its own instead of the intimidating repellent that stops kids from taking a professional interest in gaming. There needs to be far more collaboration between artists and ‘creative technologists’ to ensure that the industry retains the wondrous, imagination-bending appeal that its always had.