Game Art Analysis, pt. 1: Classification

Hello there! I’m Salvador Ansiger, an independent artist from Ukraine. I spent years working as an artist and project lead on a bunch of cool projects for various companies. After joining Room 8 Studio, I was also lucky enough to contribute to exciting projects like Angry Birds, Board Kings, Cube Rush Adventure, Cat Force, and more. 

My experience shows that in today’s game development landscape, external partners are no longer extra hands—they’re valued experts, providing clients with top-notch expertise. Vendors trust their partners and give them creative reins. This means that team leads and art directors must thoroughly analyze games, piecing together different parts into the whole picture. It’s a skill that can really smooth the path to success.

As my priority is to help artists grow, I’ve decided to write a big guide on analyzing games and divide it into a trilogy: Classification, Atmosphere, and Style. This piece of work is a roadmap, designed to enlighten the process and equip artists with the tools needed to analyze any game. But remember that every game is unique and requires its own authentic approach with specific questions and original infographics. So, let’s get started!

The first things that team leads and art directors must determine before starting to analyze game art are:

  1. Genre of the game;
  2. Game’s setting;
  3. Target platform;
  4. Gameplay.

However there is no unified system of classification games, and it is natural to face some challenges during this process. Some useful spreadsheets can be found on Wikipedia.


Understanding the genre helps specialists define the age and nature of the target audience, as well as establish the scope of the search references and meet players’ expectations.

It is easy to analyze the game which has only one univocal, monolith genre. But in the cases, when the game has various genres, the number of interest points increases and the combinatorics of visual aids expands.



Dredge is a fishing adventure simulator with some horror elements, where players need to fish in the sea, based on the works of Lovecraft.

In this game, developers needed to organically unite the meditative mechanic of fishing with the sense of horror and anxiety.

When gathering references, artists should not limit themselves to only “fishing guidance. Instead, they should also study the horror genre and find solutions to unite two different and even opposite genres.  

The Banner Saga

The Banner Saga is a tactical RPG with iconically beautiful art. The developers managed to combine strict isometry with deep multi-layered landscapes and fill them with an unforgettable aesthetic.

Tactical games often use isometric angles because it allows manipulating a large number of equal elements.

Turn-based strategies often use lined fields, because:

  • It provides discrete position of objects
  • Simplifies and discipline collisions
  • Limits variations of possible actions
  • Simplifies players prediction
  • Simplifies visual perception of the scenes by the players
  • Stimulates strategic and tactical thinking of players

Additionally, turn-based strategies often have highly detailed backgrounds because players have a ton of time to look at them. 

RPGs aim for the deep development and customization of the character and their appearance.

Understanding the genre spectrum of the game helps the artist to better understand its visual features.


The setting is a feature of the reality simulated by the media product. In simple words, it’s a time, place, and the conditions of the game. Understanding the setting helps artists to define areas of the search references and quickly gather visual and narrative toolsets. The setting can also be mixed and holistic.



The setting of this game is obvious: 100% Medieval England. Such an explicit setting ensures clear references and helps artists to not be mistaken for the wrong elements.

Horizon: Zero Dawn 

We can see the ancient post-apocalyptic world with sci-fi elements. In this world, wild tribes use robot elements as our ancestors used bones. In Horizon: Zero Dawn, developers faced the challenge of creating a truthful illusion when combining incompatible things. In the case of such mixed settings, it would be useful to make proportions (if possible).

In the picture above, orange is a color of the ancient elements, and blue is a sci-fi element. Such a decomposition might be useful when creating new concepts: it clearly shows the balance and prevents its violation.


In a broad sense, a platform is not only a device in which a game will be played but also its terms of use. Understanding the platform helps to establish the sizes of elements and to create correct details and contrasts.

Mobile sessions are more frequent and shorter than sessions on PlayStation. Therefore mobile art is more intuitive, has its own “fingers ergonomic” and is less detailed. Some mobile games are developed with the expectation that players will play them in the metro, standing in the crowd. For this purpose, buttons are big and control is simple.


Subway Surfers 

The most downloaded mobile game in history.

In this game, all gaming elements are easily noticeable even in dynamic. The average session lasts 15-20 minutes, and players can play this game even in uncomfortable positions!

God of War: Ragnarök

One of the most downloaded games for PlayStation for 2022.

This game is designed for long gaming sessions and immersing players in its rich lore. This allows developers to include in the game highly detailed and complex forms.


Understanding the gameplay helps to:

  • to zone gaming space (establish the positioning of the prop);
  • distribute props by the importance scale;
  • establish tone and the coloristic ratio of elements;
  • reveal the individual technical requirements of the game.


Fish of Fortune

It’s a multiplayer casino adventure game about catching fish and winning coins. The most important window in this game is where the player uses coins to unlock new gifts. In order for this window to be perceived correctly, we need to ensure color background zoning, color hierarchy and contrast balance: 

  • Main props have a progression and must fit in the interface frames at every stage of the game and not overlap each other.
  • Penguins and fire are the most saturated and contrasted elements. The rest elements are secondary.
  • Fire elements don’t move and there always must be a place for them.

Old man’s journey

In this game, Interactive landscape is the basis of gameplay (players control the landscape so that the character can pass the locations). Therefore all art has a vertical gradient which is important for the concepting of the new locations.

Bottom Line

To sum up, I can say that genres, settings, platforms, and gameplay are the primary categories to classify games and analyze game art. Read the next chapters of our big guidance here:

Part 2: Atmosphere

Part 3: The Style

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