The Adventure of the Game Art Industry

*Article was originally written by Tricia Waddell and appeared in Artist’s & Graphic Designer’s Market 2000.

Visit the Artist: Ry-Spirit!Why are we talking about games in the book publishers section? Because games such as roleplaying games (e.g., Dungeons & Dragons®), miniature games, trading card games, board games, and play-by-mail games are all part of the adventure game industry and rely heavily on books. Adventure games are played by hobby enthusiasts who devote significant time and skill mastering often complex games. Game companies produce a host of player guides, adventure campaign books and reference books for designing characters, in addition to spin-off novels and products based on the game, all chock-full of art. Art directors at game companies rely heavily on freelance artists for illustrations and graphic design for book cover and interior art, in addition to related game accessories, publications, merchandise and marketing materials.

Adventure games range in artistic styles and genres. Historical games and war games reflect period styles from feudal Japan to World War II. Roleplaying games such as Dungeons & Dragons® use fantasy art and medieval settings. Other roleplaying games showcase various styles including science fiction, cyberpunk, horror, Japanimation and Gothic. Collectible card games such as Magic: the Gathering® use fantasy art with a supernatural twist. Art directors look for artists who can create accurate figure drawings, dynamic compositions and depict both real and imaginary environments. Black and white line art is most often used in book or game interior illustrations, while four-color work is used for game and book covers, card game art and related products.

game art
Artists wanting to break into this market should research companies and product lines to ensure their submissions match in style and genre. Adventure games are usually sold through game, comic or hobby shops, with popular titles and novels sold in mass0market bookstores. To learn more about the gaming industry and meet art directors directly for portfolio reviews, attend one of the many gaming conventions held in cities across the U.S. The two major conventions are the Origins International Game Expo and Fair held annually in Columbus, Ohio and Gen Con, held annually in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. To see the work of other artists in the science fiction and fantasy genre, check out Spectrum: The Best in Contemporary Fantastic Art (Underwood Books). This annual sourcebook of artists is often used as a talent resource by art directors. To learn more about freelancing for a game company, see the article with Jon Schindehette, Senior Art Director of the book division at Wizards of the Coast. To find contact information and art submissions guidelines for game companies, look for marketing listings under the Science Fiction/Fantasy category in the Special Markets Index within the current Artist’s & Graphic Designer’s Market book available to you. Also, check out the following resources and industry websites.

Information on the roleplaying gaming industry with links to dozens of game companies.

Game Manufacturers Association
Links to GAMA members which include the majority of adventure gaming companies and distributors. GAMA also publishes a free membership directory with contact information.

The Academy of Gaming Arts & Design
Publishes a free directory of game industry professionals.

Game Publishers Association
Provides links to GPA members, an association of small game companies.

The Games Quarterly Catalog
An industry bible with complete listings of every hobby game product in print, by manufacturer, along with contact information for manufacturers and distributors. Contact Matthews-Simmons Marketing, 5575D Arapahoe Road, Boulder, CO 80303. (303) 786-9727


For more tips on marketing or publishing your art, check out:
2015 Artist's & Graphic Designer's Market


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