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Video Game [R]evolution

Video Game [R]evolution

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Published by Dave Sauvageau
Timeline Analysis
Timeline Analysis

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Categories:Topics, Art & Design
Published by: Dave Sauvageau on May 04, 2013
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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The history of video games may be relatively short but the impact of the cultureof electronic gaming systems is undeniably influential in society today. It is important tofirst be able to describe the timeline, analyze it and finally evaluate the timeline as awhole. This is what I will do with a timeline I chose.
My timeline was published by Education Database Online in 2009 and can befound on their website. The database itself was created to educate prospective collegestudents about educational opportunities. This specific timeline is used by students pursuing video game development programs. The graphic, titled "Video GameTimeline", sheds some light on the history of the medium and how it has evolved since1967. The layout is simple but effective. It is spread out on a white background and progresses from left to right. The scene is set with a short sentence at the beginning of the graphic under the title. It reads, "As the world of video games continues to evolve,we take a look back at popular consoles and video games that helped make Nintendo,Sony, and Microsoft the giants they are today." There is a vertical multicolored line thatleads from the title and sentence down to the wide horizontal line that changes colors asthe time progresses. It breaks time into large chunks labeled as "Generations" and eachgeneration has highlighted milestones labeled by the year it happened. Font colors andstyles are chosen carefully. The year is a bold, vintage style and is either red or black.The red dates represent a milestone in consoles while the red dates represent a notablerelease of a game. Under the year, in smaller black text reads a brief description of whathappened that year. Alongside the description is a picture of either a console or acharacter from one of the games that was released at that time. The timeline starts in1967 and ends in 2009.
The timeline is simple, yet extremely effective. Analyzing this graphic, I foundthat the elements and principles of design are key to get information across to the viewer.Color is what first drew my attention. The main horizontal line changes boldcolors as it goes across. Each generation is divided into these separate colors, they arenot just simple hues but go in order from mint green, pea green, dark yellow, bright red,chocolate brown, orange and black. Although these colors have no direct associationwith a moment in time, they do add interest and make the timeline appear more graphic
than a standard timeline. Color is also used in the pictures to represent each system or character. The colors used in the pictures are true to how the video game enthusiastwould recall. They are simple photographs of the real thing. For viewers that livedthrough the time periods that the systems existed, they might have an emotionalconnection to the memories of these graphics. As Scott McCloud recounts in his book 
Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art, “The idea that a picture can
evoke an
emotional or sensual response in the viewer is vital to the art of comics.” This is also true
with the association of video game systems and characters with the viewer. Colors,shapes and values define the video game so it is important that the viewer can relate tothe content to stay engaged. Video games have used color effectively so it is fitting thatthe timeline also uses color to communicate.Space is laid out from a defined beginning in 1967 to an undefined endsymbolized by the horizontal line going off of the graphic. The way the line falls off theedge is important to show that although there was a defined start to video games, there isno end in sight for the industry. Between moments in the timeline, the viewer's mind fillsin the blanks creating the closure effect. The viewer does not necessarily know whathappened between years but a clear advancement is made. This spatial relation is alsosymbolic of chronological order and is essential to an effective graphic. Space alsovaries vertically to conserve space and add interest to the graphic. Pictures anddescriptions are stacked on top of one another but are linked to the main horizontal linewith a thin vertical line to avoid confusion. This provides interesting space and reducingnegative space keeps the eye moving. Movement also comes into play with timelinessuch as this. Most importantly moving the eye from left to right in a chronological order.Movement is used in art to activate the viewer's eye and move it around, stoppingat each moment before moving onto the next. Timelines also use this concept to activatethe subject and add a rhythm to the graphic. Rhythm carries us in a unified manner fromsubject to subject and description to description. Creating a unified concept and ideagives the viewer a clear message.Unity is created through the style of the horizontal line, it is continuous and is thesame thickness from end to end. All of the font styles and colors are cohesive andrepresent their respective idea. Simple things that the viewer would never think of keepconcepts separate and unify the graphic as a whole. It must stand as a single piece whileemphasizing specific points. The emphasis of the design of this timeline jumps arounddepending on what time you look at. Each bit of information is emphasized to bring theviewer's eye and mind to that point in time.This model uses elements and principles effectively to convey the history of videogames. It combines recognizable themes and icons with hard facts and dates that make ituseful to the viewer. I believe the main goal of this piece is to inform the viewer about an
entertainment medium. We do not often think about how each step drove the industry to be what it is today and what it will become in the future. I think it takes a step back fromthe video game culture and looks at it through a clear, thorough lens while still retainingthe visual elements that gamers will appreciate. It uses stereotypical representations because they are an effective source of visual material. Gamers will begin to associatewith the characters in the timeline and remember their relationship to the story andsubject matter. We can look at these visual elements to analyze but is it really a goodtimeline?
As a recreational gamer myself, I can relate to a lot of these systems and characters in thetimeline. However, it does appear fairly boring overall. This style of timeline, with adefined horizontal axis, is the standard for a timeline.
It is familiar and is an easy way to communicate time. However, being that the timelinewas intended to be viewed by prospective video game development students, I feel that itcould have been way more design-oriented. Incorporating video elements or aninteractive aspect would have really made this timeline pop and fit the video gameculture. Also, using a different background than plain white may have added someinterest to the timeline. The creator must be careful with the background because it canget crowded and overwhelming quickly. The information presented is thoughtful andmarks a specific moment in digital cultural history. Each statement is an integral part andthe viewer can fill in the gaps quite easily.The descriptions also feature enough background information to not exclude people whoaren't video game enthusiasts. This timeline functions well but could be spiced up a bitfor viewers that focus on thoughtful design.
Through describing the visual elements of the timeline, analyzing it andevaluating the timeline as a whole, the reader can see what works and what does not.

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