For years now, there’s been a subtle but consistent connection between street artists and video games. It’s impossible to say if someone who does street art is more or less likely to play video games in general. What we can say is that there have been a number of games over the years that were inspired by graffiti. And that’s to say nothing of games like the Tony Hawk skater franchise, which delves into aspects of this culture as well.
Those examples are about games that have catered to street artists in their own ways. What could be interesting moving forward is how street artists could get involved with the gaming industry by doing what they do best.
The first place to look for this, would be the console market, where the biggest and most artistically ambitious games are being released. The subject of graffiti in a modern console game came up in a major tech publication last year, when it was mentioned that The Division was using street art to make New York more realistic. Played online as a multiplayer third-person shooter, the game thrives due to a meticulously crafted world that makes players feel as though they’re moving through a real life environment. Part of achieving that world involved turning to real street artists for design tips, as well as placement advice for pieces of graffiti. This is only one example, but it might represent the best opportunity for modern street artists to get involved with gaming. There are plenty of intricate worlds being built, and graffiti can be a brilliant background touch in many of them.
The console market isn’t the only area where there could conceivably be opportunities for street artists. We’re also seeing other areas within the video game business expanding their artistic reach. There’s been an explosion of innovative game design online, largely tied to the casino genre. While that might call to mind digital poker rooms and animated roulette wheels, the truth is that online slots are by far the most played games on the web when it comes to these platforms. That means there’s a need for variety. This, in turn, means every single slot game has a unique design and thematic backdrop. We haven’t really seen graffiti-inspired games yet, but we’ve seen just about everything else. This is an area open to all kinds of different environments. An industrious street artist could likely find his or her way by creating backgrounds for various slot “worlds” to provide a fresh spin on the popular genre.
Very similar to the online slot community is the app market, which by now is overflowing with gaming options. What’s fascinating is that with limited capabilities in terms of controls or storage space, video game app developers seem to frequently focus on constructing eye-catching environments. A beautiful or unique looking game, or even one with an unusual soundtrack, can often outperform a less intriguing title designed to imitate a console experience. There’s a lot of emphasis on the art behind the games, and that presents an opportunity for situations like the one that arose with The Division.
Most of this is theoretical, but street art and gaming are a more natural fit than many might assume at first. That could lead to some very interesting partnerships in the near future, and a new avenue of expression for street artists.
Photos by courtesy of : Ubisoft and Atari