I love art. I love going into museums and galleries and just being surrounded by paintings. I also love video games. I laugh at the debate on whether video games are art since there is no denying that games are entirely composed of it: conceptual, storyboarding, character design, environmental.

Around four or five years ago, I set out to bring my two loves together and find a piece of original video game artwork. It was not an easy task. I reached out to many artists from several different companies. Although a couple of these people were nice enough to share some stories before turning me away, others were not as kind and told me flat out that their art is owned by their respective employers and cannot be given away or sold.

I was close to quitting my quest until I happened upon the website of Paul Jaquays. Jaquays has worked in the gaming industry since the days of the CalecoVision (Donkey Kong, WarGames, and Pac-Man were just a few of his projects). He then moved around Epyx, Interplay, and Electronic Arts where he did a rewrite of The Bard’s Tale IV, which to this day remains unreleased. He left EA for id Software. 

Jaquays was a single-player and multiplayer level designer on QUAKE II and wrote the story in the instruction manual. He was also a level designer on QUAKE III Arena (and Team Arena) in addition to being an artist on those titles. After I contacted him, he told me that he had kept one piece of his gothic-styled QUAKE III art and was willing to part with it.

 

This was my first up-close look into how games were made on a visual level. This 5 x 5-inch piece was composed using airbrush, inks, pencil, and gouache. The completed art was then scanned into a computer and modified in Photoshop to become a door/wall texture in the game.

This texture, nicknamed “Bugwall,” can be seen in a number of maps, including Brimstone Alley (Q3DM8), Troubled Waters (Q3CTF2), and Deva Station (Q3DM11).

Art such as this would have normally been only half-painted and then mirrored in the game, but I am glad that was not done in this example as it would not display as nicely framed.

It may not be a particularly important art piece by any stretch, but it is special knowing that the illustration represents something larger. It is literally a building block of game making.

I wonder if an art market will someday form out of video games, and if museums will ever house them.

Jaquays would eventually leave id after working on Doom 3. He joined Microsoft’s Ensemble Studios where he contributed to Age of Empires III and Halo Wars until the company was disbanded in 2009. He is now currently with CCP Games, which is best known for Eve Online.

Jaquays is also highly regarded for his contributions to TSR Inc. and Dungeons & Dragons.