Dungeons. Dragons. Graph paper. Funny dice.

Art in gaming products (as landmarks)

Today, I read a bunch of posts about art in gaming products. Stephan Poag often writes thoughtfully on the subject. As one might expect from an artist, he is firmly in the pro-art camp. James Maliszewski tolerates art in moderation. A minority actively dislike art as “a very superficial unthinking gloss for fantasies,” but they are asses.

One thing about gaming art that I haven’t seen mentioned—perhaps because it’s so obvious—is its practical value as an aid to navigating texts. I tend to mentally index gaming books by their images, even when the content of the images doesn’t directly illustrate nearby text. It’s just a lot faster flipping through a book to recognize a picture than to recognize a block of text.

I suspect that’s also why new editions with replaced or rearranged art are so jarring—they disrupt that pattern recognition.

This is _not) to say that I think of art as a merely a superficial unthinking gloss.


scottsz, June 3, 2011 at 5:32 AM

This is an excellent point, particularly for works that have a high page count.

Stuart, June 3, 2011 at 8:02 AM

Excellent point, and so obvious that it’s easy to overlook and forget!

scottsz, June 3, 2011 at 9:57 AM

A general opinion question: If pages were designed with visual cues for sections (bands of color or decorative bands/icons), would the visual navigation concern be accommodated?

For myself, I’d rather have the ‘buoys’ of images within the page. I’m just curious.

Paul, June 3, 2011 at 10:59 AM

It would depend on the implementation and the nature of the book. A dictionary-style notched thumb index might be a nice feature for any thick alphabetical reference, like a monster collection.

I’m a bit of a minimalist, however, so I would not favor WotC-style decorative full-bleed borders.

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