Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The Art Of The Game/Movie Poster

In MIB #18 I had a link to some video game classics posters/covers made by Olly Moss. My favorite was the GoldenEye image.

Apparently the meme was picked up by those unruly denizens over on SomethingAwful (the nefarious evil corporation known as Goonswarm of recent Eve Online fame). They are semifamous for their photoshop flash mobs. Thus, there is at least 35 forum pages of classic game posters/cover art made by SA members in response.

Some of them simply show some aspect of the game like the Mario, Mass Effect, Sonic, and GTA posters above. Some are humorous. Some are more artistic than others ( the gun silhouettes intermingled with the buildings). The Sonic Hedgehog one is very simple yet it completely captures the essence of the game.

The Tetris poster mixes the block-like nature of Tetris crossed with the Russian nature of the coder who built it. TF2 is more realistic, showing the true nature of the gameplay on almost any server today. The MGS cover would be absolutely arcane to anyone who has not played the game (sweeping light beams show where the enemy is looking).

These three all poke fun at some aspect of the game they are depicting: the lack of a flashlight attachment for the gun in Doom III, the finger twitching skills necessary to win at GH, and the complete lack of a social life for those addicted to WoWCrack.

Recent games show up more frequently. This set of L4D either brilliantly and abstractly captures the game (the first two - with 4 characters surrounded by a zombie horde - guess which one is Louis), or shows a traumatic, although far too typical scene, or simply enigmatically hints at the L4D world at a distance.

I found this all more fascinating as I received "Art of the Modern Movie Poster", a large coffee table style art book, for Xmas. It shows a lot of international movie posters (examples on NPR, there's even samples of the various book cover designs).

It is rather fascinating to see how other countries depicted famous movies. Above left we see the typical western Apocalypse Now poster. The middle image shows the Polish version with a far more stylized closeup of Colonel Kurtz's traumatized visage. The one on the right, Japanese, although not capturing the essence of the movie, does showcase one important scene by highlighting the insect and machine-like gleam of the war apparatus en route to one famous Robert Duvall speech (can you not hear the Wagner emanating?).

More Eastern European examples here.

Two things struck me both in the movie and game poster/cover examples. One is how various attempts are made to capture the essence of a movie/game in a single still image (forget the elevator pitch - show one of these instead), sometimes in rather humorous ways. The other was the relativistic slant shown by national/virtual borders, all of the design attempting to appeal to all human beings within the colored lines drawn on a map. I wonder if there was ever an analysis done to find out if some movies were more or less successful depending on whether the movie poster matched national expectations for what the movie was (also a result of a feedback loop - this is a successful movie poster - thus all movie posters should look like this).

(Movie poster colors were covered on this blog before, as was the vanishing art of movie posters in the internet video age). I will add to this collection by saying that it is too bad that modern video game box covers do not utilize some of these ideas. They would certainly make me at least pick up some more boxes for a second glance (for example, most of these are boring).

Oh right, it's the age of Steam, no more boxes at retail. Oh well.

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