Book: Interactive stories and video game art by Chris Solarski

At the Gamification World Congress in 2015, I had the privilege to meet and learn from Chris Solarski in his workshop on the very topic of his book namely the impact that video game art can impact the emotions experienced by players. When he then asked me to review this book, I was more than happy to do this.

The book is as excellent and goes into a lot more depth than we had time for in a workshop. It starts with the basic shapes used such as a square, circle and triangle and its impact on how we perceive a character. For example, if we look at Mario, from  Nintendo games, as a character he comes in a rounded shape, which invokes a likability. Then we look at those same shapes in terms of lines of movement and environment introduction or scene setting. A great illustration of it’s use was in the movie of Lord of the Rings, with Hobbit country being very rounded and friendly and all the scary dangerous setting very triangular in shape. Even the characters and their expression adapt to the mood that is required for the setting.

Visuals have captured our imagination and it is often said a picture can portray a 1000 words. What I didn’t realise until I came across Chris’s work that the shapes and use of it in landscaping, motion and characters also have an impact.

The book builds up from basic to advanced, so even a beginner can follow and understand the concepts presented. It is also full of great illustrations and examples as well as case studies from current games.

Personally I found it a fabulous read and it stretches my thinking on how to use visual elements in gamification design especially when storytelling is a major part of it. I would say it will help people in the visual, game and gamification design world in being more creative and more effective in creating emotional responses. When you are looking to make an impact with your work this book is a great read.

If you have also read the book, feel free to add your review in the comments.

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