Pixel Art: Artistic Design or Laziness?

I’d like to talk a little bit about a genre that irks me: Pixel art games.

Pixel Art

If you’re not an avid gamer such as yours truly, you probably don’t (and shouldn’t) care about what I have to say. I have a huge collection of games on Steam. At the time of this writing, I have close the 1,800¬†games. But if you go digging through these games, you’ll notice that I have almost no pixel art games. Why? Because I made a conscious decision to not buy or support Pixel art games.

Pixel art is a descriptor for games that look like they are from the 90’s. They come with very blocky graphics to give you that sense of nostalgia. However, what I have noticed over the past few years is the slow increase in number of games that are looking like them.

You might argue that this is the whole “judging a book by its cover” sort of thing, and you’d be somewhat right. Judging a game by the way it looks is probably the best way to disregard a lot of great games out there. But what I have noticed is that many developers choose to ignore graphics entirely (in the name of giving a game a certain “feel) just to try and save a little money on hiring an artist. And this is why I drew the line.

While some games can definitely benefit from a pixel art style, I find that many games could simply be better by improving the graphics. I’m not saying that the graphics need to be fantastic. I play a lot of indie games. Most of them have very simple, but decent-looking graphics. But I’d like to see an effort put into making a game that doesn’t look like it could run on a computer from the 80’s. Developers seem to be using Pixel art as a excuse for bad art, not as a conscious art decision.

That brings me on the RPGmaker games. RPGMaker is an engine which allows you to easily create RPG games. What’s worse is that almost all of the games being released have the Pixel art look. While many people argue that an RPG is to be played for the story, I play games to enjoy them. I look for gameplay, art style, voice acting, mechanics and other elements to judge how good a game is.

A game that gets a zero (as do all Pixel art games) on graphics just ruins my gameplay experience. I don’t even care how great the mechanics are. If I simply cannot enjoy a game, it’s not worth my time playing, especially because I don’t have infinite amounts of time and there are a ton of other games vying for my attention. I find RPGmaker games to be the pinnacle of developer laziness. Games are easy to pump out at a high speed. It’s all about sheer volume at this point.

I’ve always been asked to give pixel art games another chance, but I’ve never really found a game which could not be improved by having better graphics. For now, I’m going to stick with games with proper graphics. There are tons of these out there.

So what are your thoughts on Pixel art games? Do you play them? What do you think about the art style? Do you like RPGMaker games? Let me know in the comments!

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